Charities and the power dynamic 

6 July, 2022


Dr Javed Khan, former chief executive of Barnardo’s, recently commented that big charities don't do enough to share power with their smaller counterparts. 

Khan commented that what the sector needs to do is recognise that, through partnerships between national and local charities, you can reach more people, you can reach them faster, and you can reach them in places that otherwise you wouldn’t get to. 

Khan gave the example of Barnardo’s working in partnership to support over 100,000 vulnerable children during the pandemic. The collaboration with smaller charities enabled a quicker response in reaching children and distributing vital funds than the bigger organisation could have achieved on its own. By developing this consortium of other like-minded charities, within one month more than 80 charities across the breadth of the country were providing support to in-need children. 

Khan admitted that, initially, it was not easy to convince smaller charities to get on board with the idea of a consortium, because they didn't believe what the offer was: “They needed some convincing that there was this very large national charity that wanted to invest in the local players. They weren’t used to it, there’s no kind of history of that happening. We had to go back and back again to develop that trust. So it’s hard work.” 

Khan suggested that “interdependence should be the watchword in the future”. He said: “I think we’re going to need to move beyond traditional partnerships and collaboration and move to interdependence. That’s far more powerful because interdependence isn’t based on size, scale and money. It’s about recognising that one partner’s existence and the ability to deliver relies as much on other people within that ecosystem to exist and deliver as it does on themselves and understanding how each other’s shoes pinch.” 

He added that diversity and a younger workforce will be invaluable for charities to widen their reach. “I think diversity is going to be critical,” he said. “That’s diversity in our people, our practice, cultural intelligence and how our sector will be led and driven.” 

“The new models of charities, how they’re going to be set up, will change and it will be driven by younger people who will connect with communities in ways that we haven’t discovered yet.” 

Voscur champions and facilitates cross-sector working because we believe we are stronger when we work together. By enabling partnerships, we make better use of shared assets and make more progress towards common ambitions. Our independence enables Voscur to be the glue in collaborations that are equitable and effective. Read more about our networks, collaborations and strategy groups in the partnership section of our website.