Answer: At the Charity Commission’s Annual Public Meeting on 23 January, The Duke of Cambridge delivered the keynote speech. He spoke about the vital role of charities in society and the importance of collaboration in the sector. Although this has been a theme within the sector for many years, it has, once again, been thrown into the spotlight.

There are a wide range of options for collaborative working, and it need not involve lengthy legal documents. Many charities work together informally for mutual benefit. However, if you are engaging in any sort of collaboration involving shared staff or resources, or which might expose your charity to risk, we would always recommend entering into a contractual arrangement to make it clear who is responsible for what in the collaboration.

More formal types of collaboration include joint venture projects, either contractual or by setting up a joint venture vehicle, with each charity holding an equal number of shares and contributing to the project as agreed in a shareholders’ agreement. These sorts of collaborations tend to work well when bidding jointly for public service contracts.

At the other end of the scale from informal collaboration is a full-blown merger. The merger of two or more charities is a significant decision and involves a lot of time and money to achieve. So, it should not be undertaken lightly. However, it is, in some cases, absolutely the right decision and the best way to achieve your aims.