CollaborationNI has created a range of resources to inform and support your collaborative work. Our resources are divided into three categories:

Guidance Notes

  Guidance Notes

Information on specific areas of collaborative working and best practice advice

Case Studies

  Case Studies

Learning captured from real VCSE collaborative projects carried out in NI


Practical resources to help you assess and implement your collaborative work


Guidance Notes

Information on specific areas of collaborative working and best practice advice


13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

Interest in mergers across the VCSE sector is growing and these may be appropriate where organisations are sufficiently compatible. This guidance gives an overview of the merger process and uses local case studies to illustrate some of the challenges.

Joint Working for Public Service Delivery: a model of collaborative working

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

This guidance is designed to assist VCSE organisations considering joint working arrangements to deliver public services. It highlights the importance of putting a collaboration agreement in place to outline how costs and responsibility will be shared.

Sharing Back Office Services

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

A volatile financial environment and increasing operating expenses and demand for services are causing organisations to look at innovation and change. This guidance note explores ‘shared services’ and some of the processes, risks and benefits involved.

Collaborating to Win Tenders

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

As commissioners demand more innovation and expertise in contracted services collaboration between organisations is an attractive option. This guidance explains the potential challenges of joint tendering and how organisations can best prepare to respond.

Due Diligence

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

When considering merger or joint working, due diligence is the process of investigation organisations undertake to obtain a better picture of the other organisation(s) involved, including their assets, liabilities and any potential risks.

Advice to Boards on Collaboration

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

This guidance outlines the responsibilities of directors and trustees of VCSE organisations in relation to collaboration and provides useful information to ensure good governance oversight and appropriate board involvement in any collaborative process.

Good Governance: fundamental principles for collaboration

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

This guidance outlines the eight fundamental principles and duties of trustees of boards of VCSE organisations. Together these form the building blocks of good governance for collaboration.

A Practical Guide to Collaborative Working

13 Jan 2016CollaborationNI

This practical guidance is designed to assist organisations involved in, or considering, collaboration by providing an overview of the key issues that can influence collaborative working. Links to NI case studies are included to illustrate best practice.


10 Jul 2014CollaborationNI

When deciding whether to collaborate or merge all organisations must consider whether the employment legislation referred to as TUPE applies in relation to contracts of employment for their staff and, if so, what impact this will have on any process.


Case Studies

Learning captured from real VCSE collaborative projects carried out in NI:

Will to Give - fundraising collaboration

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

Sometimes a shared interest and a need for joined-up work between organisations can lead to the formation of a new VCSE organisation in order to best represent the interests of multiple member groups.       

Fermanagh House - shared premises

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

Fermanagh House is a social enterprise owned by the Fermanagh Trust. This case study gives an example of how VCSE organisations can come together to share space and by doing so access greater resources than any one organisation could on its own.

Parenting NI and Family Mediation Northern Ireland - working together to best support service users

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

This case study outlines the process undertaken by two organisations that were working collaboratively on an informal basis to develop a more strategic collaborative commitment to best support their service users.

CollaborationNI supporting the Homeless Prevention Floating Support Forum

6 Nov 2014Collaboration

CollaborationNI have been involved in supporting the Homelessness Prevention over the past year.

The Skainos Project - shared premises

11 Sep 2014Collaboration, Shared Services

The Skainos Centre is a regeneration project providing shared space for community transformation and renewal. This case study examines the process, challenges and benefits of developing a large collaborative project for shared premises.

Confederation of Community Groups – Ballybot House and An Storás - shared premises

11 Sep 2014Collaboration, Shared Services

This case study outlines the process undertaken by the Confederation of Community Groups in the development and establishment of shared premises, Ballybot House and An Storás, which it leases to 19 voluntary and community organisations in Newry.

Cara-Friend - sharing premises and knowledge; delivering joint services

11 Sep 2014Collaboration, Shared Services

By sharing premises organisations can begin to share knowledge, deliver joint services and decrease duplication. Cara-Friend, The Rainbow Project and LASI (now HERE NI) tell their story of improving services by sharing premises. 

Better Together - a partnership between Cancer Focus and Lilac

11 Sep 2014Collaboration, Shared Services

The most successful collaborations are based around sound strategic reasons for working together. This case study shows how two organisations of different sizes can bring their assets together to improve services for shared beneficiaries.

Autism NI, Mencap and SELB - joint working for young people with learning disabilities

10 Sep 2014Collaboration, Shared Services

Joint working can provide a more holistic service to beneficiaries. This case study provides an example of the process of planning and carrying out a project across organisational boundaries and some of the resulting challenges and benefits.

Abbeyfield UK (NI) Ltd. - a successful merger

10 Sep 2014Collaboration, Merger

Before merging 16 separate societies were operating under the Abbeyfield brand, all providing similar services. It was decided that by merging these organisations could run more effectively. A case study of their merger is presented here.

Walled City Partnership - a journey to sharing premises and services

11 Dec 2011Collaboration, Shared Services

This case study examines the formation of the Walled City Community Partnership. Organisations with a shared ethos, all facing financial challenges worked together to create shared premises, develop shared services and ensure their survival.

Cultúrlann - sharing premises

12 Nov 2011Collaboration, Shared Services

Shared space can be the catalyst for community building. The formation of Cultúrlann as a second Irish language school in Belfast grew into a space to promote Irish arts and culture and attracted the many organisations that now reside there.

PIPS Newry & Mourne - embracing a culture of collaborative working

12 Oct 2011Collaboration, Shared Services

More VCSE organisations are strengthening their offer to beneficiaries by working in partnership. This example highlights one organisation working with multiple partners to provide a broader range of services to beneficiaries than it could alone.

Alpha Housing - example of a VCSE merger

10 Oct 2011Collaboration, Merger

For a merger to succeed in the VCSE sector, finding a partner with a similar ethos and having a strong board leading and supporting the process are enormous assets. This case study presents the successful merger of two housing associations.

The Bytes Project - working in collaboration with Tides Training

11 Sep 2011Collaboration, Shared Services

This case study examines how collaboration grew from a simple enquiry to address staff training needs. A shared ethos and strong relationship between CEOs resulted in innovative training for staff and service users and new business opportunities.

Breakfast at Madison’s - VIM sharing back office services

11 Jul 2011Collaboration, Shared Services

MACS, Include Youth and VOYPIC have all embraced the spirit of collaborative working. This case study presents an example of the investment of time and relationship building that may be required to form a collaborative project in the early stages.


Practical resources to help you assess and implement your collaborative work:

Are you ready to Tender?

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

Organisations which are effective at tendering invest heavily in preparation; they have many standard documents ready well in advance of the tender notice being issued. This 'readiness questionnaire' will help identify areas to action.

Checklist of Questions for Partners Considering Collaboration

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

This checklist is a simple guide to typical questions each partner will need to ask when considering collaborative working.

Collaborative Tendering Action Plan

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

This is a simple table for you and your partner organisations to list actions that need to be taken to develop or improve your approach to tendering, the timeline they will be completed within, and who in you collaboration will take the lead.

Organisational Readiness Action Plan

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

In order to ensure your organisation(s) are ready to jointly tender invest time now preparing. This template outlines the key areas you will need to have addressed in advance to have the best chance of success when submitting a joint tender bid.

Governance Action Plan for Collaboration

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

This template action plan will allow you to list the actions your organisation will need to take to be prepared for collaborative working, who will be responsible for each action, and when each action will be completed by.

Board Checklist for Planning Collaboration

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

This board checklist is a simple guide to typical questions your board will need to ask when considering collaborative working.

Top Tips for Collaboration from Collaboration Champions

10 Feb 2016CollaborationNI

Top tips for collaborating are shared by a few of our 'Collaboration Champions'; sector leaders who know first hand the challenges and benefits of working in collaboration.

Review Your Collaboration

6 Oct 2014CollaborationNI

Organisations involved in collaborative work should review it at regular intervals. This questionnaire is a tool for collaborative work groups to use to begin to review their collaboration and assess if it is meeting its envisioned outcomes.