More for Less?

6 August 2010 | By Cause4 staff

Last week Nick Hurd and Francis Maud published an open letter to the Third Sector asking for ideas about reducing the deficit. Nick Hurd explained, ‘We want to identify ways of doing things better and more efficiently.’ With funding cuts more apparent by the day, the most pertinent question for charities is how they can do ‘more for less.’

To be clear, doing ‘more for less’ does not mean increasing activity. Instead, it is about being smarter, producing better - not necessarily numerically greater - outcomes with reduced funding.

A previous Cause4 post suggested that ‘mergers might not be for everyone, but partnerships are essential’. It is paramount during challenging times that charities become smarter, more strategically focussed in their approach. They must avoid duplication of effort and programmes which are better carried out by others. Instead they should undertake activities collaboratively or identify gaps in the market in order to produce maximum benefit.

The Charity Commission rightly points out: ‘Sharing IT services, mailshot provision and fundraising administration are just some of the areas where savings can be made. All charities can, and should, consider steps to minimise risk and improve efficiency’. There is also the opportunity for joined up partnerships increasing service or creative delivery – for example this summer’s Louis Vuitton arts academy is a great partnership between Tate, Hayward, Whitechapel, Royal Academy and South London galleries where each partner can bring into play their unique assets.

The best recommendation is to do the basic things right. Focus on outcomes, improve and extend successful programmes so that they create maximum impact, cull those that are not and pursue collaboration ahead of replication.

The Government, we suggest, should be doing the same.

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