Friday, 14 November 2014

Navigating the Challenges of Public Sector Partnerships - by Amy Brettell, Head of Charities & Social Organisations, Zurich Municipal

This is an exciting and challenging time for trustees.  Deeper partnerships with the public sector and increasing demand for services means that charities – more than ever since the creation of the welfare state – play an essential role in the provision of public services. 

Charities are increasingly engaged in public service delivery and the government is seeking to open more avenues for charities – both large and small – to enter into public service contracts.  

While this means your charity has an unprecedented opportunity to positively impact the communities they operate in, you also have to navigate the new risks arising from taking on responsibility for public service delivery.

·         Funding – Organisations must ensure they balance delivery of short-term public service contracts against their long-term financial stability.  Strong financial planning is important to ensure that your charity can survive even if major contracts are not renewed, and continue to provide services to other groups.
·         Liability – Working in partnership can give rise to economies of scale and efficiencies.  However, these complex relationships can often blur lines of accountability when it comes to risk and responsibility.   To help protect your charity and volunteers from litigation, there should be a clear understanding of where liability lies at the start of any partnership. 

·         Charitable purposes – Working in partnership will mean your charity has to respond to many, sometimes conflicting, demands.  Meeting contractual responsibilities is essential, but you must also ensure you are delivering the charitable purposes for which your organisation was set up.

By ensuring that your charity’s core purposes are embedded in all its activities, and that good governance and strong risk management procedures are baked into how your charity is run, trustees play a critical role in helping your organisation successfully navigate public sector partnerships and deliver public services.
If you would like further information on the strategic and operational risks associated with public service delivery, please visit the Zurich webpage or contact your local Risk and Insurance Consultant on

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