Although I have to admit I am not an avid reader of romantic fiction Sarah Maclean may have had a point when she said
‘’The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.’’
Business partnerships are common place within the commercial for profit world just think of Disney and Pixar or Intel and Microsoft however they are almost unheard of in the not for profit sector.
Why is this?
You would expect that social purpose driven organisations would have the basis for strong commercial partnerships as they often have common goals and share ethical motivations. Consortiums have been the flavour of the month for some time within the community and voluntary sector however although my organisation has joined many consortia my experience is that they can be unwieldy and fraught with difficulties.
They also tend to be retrospective, we have often invested huge amounts of management time into developing a collaboration following a tender release only to come unstuck when we started to talk about the nitty gritty.
To this point, we decided earlier this year to start work on an audacious project to create the first Health and Wellbeing focused Limited Liability Partnership in the social enterprise sector.
Currently different social enterprises and charities provide different aspects of health and wellbeing services. When it comes to bidding for new contracts, alone these organisations may not have the capacity or size to foster confidence from the commissioning body. However, by coming together and working in partnership this enables these organisations to compete against large providers.
Comprised of public service spin-outs and local charities, the Health and Wellbeing LLP has been forged to meet the ever increasing move towards ‘macro-commissioning’. This new circa £33m organisation is ideally placed to compete in the new commissioning landscape.
With limited resources in commissioning, we will without doubt, see the advent of more ‘macro-commissioning’ of complex lots of work developed in a way that only favours the larger at scale organisations in both the public and private sectors.
We have long lamented about the lack of scale within the Social Enterprise sector. From a commissioning prospective social enterprises have been viewed as ‘fluffy and cuddly’. From a social investment prospective they are seen as never quite investment ready and from a provider view we have never been able to truly work with others to innovate and reduce operating overheads. With the development of the LLP, we will put this to bed as we have developed an ambitious partnership which is well resourced to catalyse growth in the coming years.
This blog was written by Scott Darraugh who is the Chief Executive at Social adVentures