Blind Veterans UK has demerged its research programmes into a newly created charity called BRAVO VICTOR.
Writing in the July edition of Charity Finance, published by Civil Society Media, Simon Hopkins, director of resources at Blind Veterans UK, says: “The new charity will form part of the wider Blind Veterans group, so will still be supported by experts in areas like finance and HR under a shared services agreement, thus avoiding duplication of cost.
“Similarly, there is a partnership agreement in place that keeps both organisations focused on the areas where joint charitable working is critical.
“But the demerger allows the new research charity to develop a wider supporter base and a set of research partnerships that would be much more difficult to achieve if it existed only as a department.”
To merge or to demerge
In the article, Hopkins suggests that despite many commentators making the case for more mergers in the charity sector, there are other alternatives, such as his charity’s own demerger, that may actually increase the number of charities whilst still creating efficiencies and other benefits.
He writes: “Our first question surely has to be: why do we think consolidation is a good idea? Are we trying to reduce costs or eliminate duplication, especially of overheads? Are we responding to public or political perceptions that there are simply too many charities in some areas and that we need to declutter the market? Or, are we trying to improve interventions and outcomes by pooling resources and expertise in a smarter way?”
Hopkins goes on to suggest that costs can be reduced without full-on merger using ideas such as “group structures, underpinned by shared services agreements and sensible use of VAT groups” and that duplication can be eliminated through “partnership agreements and sensible cross-referral and signposting”.
He also argues that a seeing a reduction in the number of charities as a “totemic measure of success is something we should resist”.
“Ultimately the right model in any situation is the one that creates the greatest impact,” Hopkins concludes. “If that means alternative approaches, and even a growth in the crude headline tally of charities, we need to make the case for it.”