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  • Writer's pictureWayne Murray

Cross sector collaboration isn’t a ‘nice to have’ any more. It’s how we win.

This blog is written by Collective member Wayne Murray and was originally posted on Fundraising Everywhere.

October 2023

This blog is written against the backdrop of the Conservative Party Conference happening right now. It’s been vile, shocking and harrowing to witness. I’ve been angry at the Government for as long as I can remember, but now I’m actually quite scared.

Everything seems to be focussed on division, on stoking fires, of legitimising prejudices. It's based on hate, fear and lies.

The world (and the sector) is on fire.

Then there is also the cost of living crisis. It's hitting society, and our sector hard. Charities (especially smaller ones) are on their knees, and many are closing. The sector is doing what it can, but it's within the systems and structures we’ve built around ourselves.

It isn’t joined up enough. We’re all trying to put out our individual fires whilst a volcano is erupting around us.

To solve systemic issues we need to work collaboratively, but we’re not. Not enough, anyway. Good people are shouldering this burden, burning out and leaving the sector forever. Who can blame them when the scale of the issues is so huge?

Why isn’t there more focus on that? #ProudFundraiser doesn’t really cut it, does it?

Why do we ask donors to do things we aren’t doing ourselves?

We constantly ask donors to mobilise. To come together and become more than the sum of their parts. To be a collective lightning rod for change. But what about the sector itself? How can we ask people to be collaborative when we as charities, funders, agencies and consultants don’t collaborate enough?

Most of the change we need to see in the world is system change. There isn’t a single charity on the planet that can change deeply rooted, structural systems on their own. We have to put cause before organisation. We have to work together.

Look at the hate, bile and division the Tories are pumping out now. Look at how they view the role of charities. How they want us to be either toothless and appreciative, or to just fuck off under a rock somewhere. Do you think this is going to get better?

Hate, that was once hinted at and alluded to, is now public. It’s platformed, celebrated and central to policy. We need to be as calculated and single minded as they are. We need to fight back.

This fight is beyond our roles, our remits and our salary bands. That’s why it needs all of us.

The sector needs to mobilise.

Working for a charity doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. But my God we need good people right now. Good people who are pulling together across the sector. Good people who can collectively push for change. Good people that see beyond the boundaries of their charity and want to tackle the root causes collectively. Not for brand, or ego, or a bullet point on your CV, but for society. For humanity.

It should start at the top, but we can’t wait that long.

Ideally, this would start with leaders. Senior charity people coming together and setting a mandate for change, for a new way of tackling system change. But we can’t wait that long.

Some brilliant collaboration is happening, but it does need dialling up significantly, and it needs to be the default.

We all need to set the precedent for collaborative working. We just need to get on with it. At every level. In every organisation.

So what can we do?

We can start by celebrating cross sector collaboration. We can intentionally seek it out. We can learn from it. We can start it ourselves. We can get involved in as much of it as we can.

We can have a collaborative mindset. We can take it seriously.

We can approach every single issue by asking ourselves “How do we solve this

collaboratively?” We can make sure that every strategy we produce has partnership at its core. We can shift power to every example of it we see. We can amplify it. We can build it into how we all work.

The more we do, and the more learnings and success we have, the more others will get involved. We need to light the spark. This is how we push back.

Let’s practise what we preach.

We’ve spent years fine tuning our skills at mobilising the public at scale. Now we need to mobilise ourselves.

Cross sector collaboration isn’t a ‘nice to have’ any more. It’s how we win.

Wayne Murray is the founder of Humanity Squared and has never kissed a Tory.


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