Making partnerships work

Our new Insights report shares learning and advice from organisations we fund on what makes good partnerships, and how to make them work. It also makes two things clear: it takes more time, effort, and money to work in partnership; and the funding system is not well set up to support partnership working.

This report is for anyone in the non-profit sector who is planning a new alliance, committed to working collaboratively, or struggling in a partnership that isn’t working. It's also for funders, like Esmée, who want to get better at supporting and working in partnerships.

Partnerships are hard work

As funders, we know from our own experiences how tricky it can be to set up and maintain a partnership with another funder when our governance is separate, even with all our resources. So why are we surprised when it takes longer and is more difficult for the organisations we fund? It is easy for us to say from a funder’s perspective that organisations “should be working together” when their work looks similar. But how many funders can say that what we each do is unique?

Working together is our superpower

The funding system is currently set up to make us all focus on what makes us different and special, instead of what we have in common, or what we need from others. In contrast, the learning in this report shows the inherent flexibility of social organisations. The organisations we fund are brilliant at making new partnerships and adapting to them in a way that corporate or public sector organisations are not. As a sector, collaborating could be our superpower.

We hope this report gives you some ideas, reassurance, or challenge to work better in partnership. It shares the advice of four brilliant partnerships we fund: Drive Forward Foundation, Northern Roots, Greener UK hosted by Green Alliance, and Committee on the Administration of Justice and North West Migrants Forum. The report also shares key resources from Take Note, IVAR, Tamarack Institute, The Change Agency, High Trees and Rising Arts Agency.

We want to hear from you

Please let us know what you think, we're always keen to hear your questions or comments so do send us an email to: communications@esmeefairbairn.org.uk.

Learn more

Latest

You might be interested in

  • LocalMotion-Community members meet in Carmarthen, Wales, for a Learning Summit2

    LocalMotion secures £18m funding until 2031

    LocalMotion's original funders, including Esmée, are continuing their involvement in the social justice network, ensuring six places in England and Wales can realise their long-term plans for change.

    Read more
  • Northern Roots-Group of young people all pulling on a rope together in game

    Making partnerships work

    Read our new Insights report, which shares learning and advice from organisations we fund on what makes good partnerships, and how to make them work.

    Read more
  • Regents Canal near Angel

    What do people think about Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 2024

    Read the findings of a 2024 survey of successful and unsuccessful applicants about their experience of Esmée. Gina Crane, Esmée's Director of Communications and Learning shares her reflections on the findings.

    Read more