1) Multiple geographical layers of collaboration
In addition to their well-established regional funder networks, in both Yorkshire and the South West we see examples of funders also collaborating at a sub-regional level.
Within Yorkshire, funder forums have been set up in Bradford, Wakefield and South Yorkshire, while in the South West, innovative models of local collaboration have emerged in Gloucestershire and Plymouth.
2) Collaboration beyond information-sharing
On the ‘collaboration spectrum’, communication and networking are often an essential starting point, building mutual awareness and relationships. Some funders may not want or need to go any further than this. But as part of a collaborative regional ecosystem, we’d expect to find at least some examples of more active coordination, or even full integration of funding activities.
Formed as a direct response to the financial challenges facing local charities at the start of the pandemic, Gloucestershire Funders have worked together to streamline funding processes. Their shared online application portal enables rapid coordination of grant decisions between multiple funders.
Yorkshire Funders is taking a different approach to reducing the demands placed on charities applying for funding. They are developing the Yorkshire Common Application Form, encouraging funders to standardise the information they request for smaller grants. This will mean that charities can reuse the same content for multiple applications – but because they will still apply to each funder separately, they can choose to tailor their responses if they prefer.
I’m not yet aware of any funder collaborations in these regions that are as fully integrated as some of those we’ve seen in London. And of course they don’t all need to be! But where there are strong regional and local networks enabling high levels of connectivity between funders, leading to increased cooperation and coordination, it seems likely that further collaborations will continue to emerge as funders identify other ways they can achieve more together.
3) A dynamic approach to funder collaboration
The third factor that Yorkshire and the South West have in common is a dynamic landscape of funder collaboration. As well as their existing collaborations, the Hub features emerging opportunities from both these regions.
Building on their work in neighbouring Bradford, Leeds Community Foundation are scoping a new Leeds Funders Forum that will further expand Yorkshire’s ‘network of funder networks’.
In the South West, an innovative approach is being developed in Bristol, where The National Lottery Community Fund are funding CTRLshift to prototype a ‘holistic community development circle’, bringing funders together with communities and professionals to co-design responses to local needs.
Any funders who are interested in shaping or participating in either of these emerging collaborations are encouraged to get in touch with the organisers, using the contact details provided in the above links to their Hub listings.
I’ve highlighted the diversity and innovation of funder collaboration in London, Yorkshire and the South West, simply based on the opportunities that have been shared on the Funders Collaborative Hub so far.
There is undoubtedly much more funder collaboration happening – in these regions and elsewhere – that isn’t currently as visible. It’s likely there are some genuine ‘collaboration cold spots’ too.
In contrast to London’s tapestry of funder collaboration, we don’t yet have any existing collaborations listed in the wider South East, or the East of England (although one funder has shared an emerging collaboration opportunity in Bedfordshire).
If you’re involved in any networks or partnerships between funders in these areas – or if you would like to start one up – I’d particularly like to hear from you.
It’s easy to add a collaboration opportunity to the Hub. Use this form to tell us about:
- existing funder collaborations that others can join and/or which have learning to share more widely
- emerging opportunities to explore potential new funder collaborations or shape work at an early stage.
The benefits of funder collaboration
My next blog in this series will look at why funders collaborate. What benefits are they are aiming to achieve by working together, beyond what would be possible on their own?
The Hub’s dataset on funder collaboration is the first of its kind, and constantly growing. By sharing and discussing it, I hope we might unlock some new insights that inform and inspire funders to use their resources in ways that have an even more positive impact on society.
If you have any suggestions for other aspects of funder collaboration we could usefully analyse - or how we might combine the Hub's data with other sources to get more value from it - please get in touch.
What do you want to collaborate on?
Explore the Hub to find the collaboration opportunities that relate to your interests as a funder