Charities say they need outsource partners who create trusting relationships and "breath the brand"
May 17, 2016
In recent years, the charity sector has undergone significant turmoil. And as the media increases its scrutiny of the third sector, charities all across the UK have undergone a crash-course in learning how to grapple with ramped-up regulations and cuts to government funding.
An increasing number of charities are now looking to outsourcing as a means to tackle shrinking budgets and meet new regulatory requirements. Hence why the NOA, in partnership with DDC Outsourcing Solutions, deemed now the perfect time to launch its brand new series of Charity Sector Special Interest Groups.
The round table discussion
The first round table of the series took place on 10th May at Freeths, the UK-based law firm. DDC OS attended, and were accompanied by a charity sector-based client; the two having experienced a highly successful outsourcing partnership over the past couple of years, a case study that served to exemplify many necessary components of successful charity outsourcing.
Unsurprisingly, supplier-buyer relationships were at the core of the discussion. Trust and good communication were singled out as two of the most important priorities if the third sector’s outsourcing is to work well in the long term.
Those around the table felt that reputational risk looms very large for charities, especially after the recent media coverage of mismanagement on the part of some charities – the death of Olive Cooke in 2015 and other cases have caused concerns for how charities use their data. Accordingly, it is important that charities work with service providers they can trust their brand with, who put particular effort into understanding and carrying out the charity’s mission. On the other hand, it was agreed that a carefully chosen third party specialist could minimise the risk of charities misusing their own data.
Communication was seen as key here - DDC OS and the client charity shared how their own experience of how regular and open discussion were vital to the thriving relationship they’d built.
Round table conclusions
Outsourcing relationships: it is more vital than ever for charities and their service providers to work in partnership with mutual understanding in order to foster trust.
For any relationship to work service providers need to keep in mind the mission of the charity, and to “breath the brand” at all times.
Charities, just like any other organisation, need to make “informed purchases”. Preparation is key when considering outsourcing options – knowing what you want, what you don’t want, and having a thorough business case.
Outsourcing in the charity sector is primarily beneficial due to economies of scale. Lack of funding is fast decreasing the capability of charities to retain full-time, in-house staff.
At the moment, charities feel like their every move is being scrutinised - this may affect the appetite of trustees for organisational changes such as outsourcing. The perceived inconsistent track record of outsourcing may not help this cause, with more than one representative at the table having had a bad experience when using a third party service provider.
Nevertheless, one thing stands out - charities understand the need to adapt to suit this new landscape, with many already exploring alternatives. Outsourcing is one of these, and many on the day argued it was the right option - charities, like any other organisations, just need to do their homework. It cannot be said enough times – prepare your business case well before committing to outsourcing, and before long you’ll very likely be reaping the benefits.
Sign up for the NOA's next Charity SIG with DDCOS.