What are your experiences/ thoughts/ advice when thinking of partnering your organisation with another well established organisation?

Jessie Panazzolo on Apr 23, 2020 • 7 answer
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I am looking to make Lonely Conservationists a more official entity to be able to receive funding- however becoming a registered charity or NGO does not seem to be suitable for us at this time. I was thinking of becoming a smaller project within a wider organisation but understandably there are risks associated with this like loss of control and losing funding to the umbrella org. Does anyone have any advice for me on this?


Hi Jessie, wow what a question (I love these sorts of questions) - where to begin. I will add a few thoughts now and then probably wake up in the middle of the night with something else I think may help - anyway here are a few thoughts to get started and please excuse me if I am covering things that you have already thought of:

1. I would first look at what it was you wanted to achieve from the work - what is the impact and over what time period? how will you measure it? That info would then tell you what activities you needed to do - and the activities (and costs of those activities) would then help you decide if you needed an organisation or if you could do it as an individual. It may be the case that you could achieve what you want to do yourself for free or with a bit of crowd funding. Or potentially you can find away to empower others to achieve a shared impact without you having to do all the work.

2. If you did need an org to help you raise/accept funds then I would always advise setting up on your own as I think the pain (hard work and financial pressure) you get from this is outweighed by the autonomy you will get to pursue your dream.

3. Setting up on your own may not be so difficult - if you are setting up a charity in uk for example you can get friends and family to be trustees and then you need about £2000 to cover the costs of registering, legal fees, and some kind of insurance. You then probably need a few policy documents (you could use ours as templates if you like) and a website (which you probably have already. Then you are off!

Hope those brief thoughts were helpful and will try to come up with some more to add soon. Am interested to hear how your thoughts progress and if anyone else was thinking of setting up an organisation as an option for carrying out the conservation work they feel is important.

Adam Barlow on Apr 23, 2020
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Thanks for your advice Adam! I am based in Australia, so setting up a charity/ NGO or charity is a bit more complicated than it seems to be in the UK. I have known people to go through the process two or three times but give up each time due to the challenges.

I guess I should say the reason I am asking this question is that I was recently talking to a potential funding organisation about covering the cost of some of our projects, but I got the impression that they only fund organisations with a DGR status. For this reason I thought it would be beneficial to look into ways of becoming an NGO or affiliated with one.

I am currently working on Lonely Conservationists (www.lonelyconservationists.com) 40 hours a week as a hobby- much because it is unpaid atm which is quite unsustainable as you can imagine for my overall well being in the long run. I have recently formed a team of people to help with all of our projects and objectives- so at least what we want to achieve is clear. From what you have said, it may be worth focusing on marketing our Pateron page so we can increase our monthly donations and have the means to stay independent for now.

Thank you so much for your response! It has been really great food for thought!

Jessie Panazzolo on Apr 24, 2020
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Ah, I see, then if you have a potential funder I personally would definitely register the org to accept them as that will help you to raise more funds faster than the crowd funding option. I see you need directors and members for an australian org and a process to go through- then it seems like you have a long list of stuff to do e.g. audited accounts etc, which we also have to do. If you do set up for yourself then I would advice starting as small as possible and grow very cautiously - we got some funding when we started and grew to fast so became unsustaibable and had to contract again. To cover all the set up and admin you probably need a full time person for a year, but after set up the admin can be done with someone working about 2 days a week - to cover all operations from HR, finance, etc. Then the leader of the org can focus on fund raising/networking/strategy/coordinating and have a couple of people delivering the project work. This may be all useless advice if you are choosing to stay unofficial or go with another NGO, but thought I would share our experience in case you are still considering registering an org. In any case lots of luck with whatever you choose to do - is always exciting starting up/growing something new.

Adam Barlow on Apr 24, 2020
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Hi Jessie,

Firstly - I enjoyed learning a bit more about Lonely Conservationists on your website -sounds like a great initiative. I mainly echo what Adam has already said. It is a really tough one, from my experience I would recommend being an independent entity (register as a charity) if you can and especially if it would be beneficial to help fundraise etc. Sounds like in the UK its more of a straight forward set up for charities. It would probably help you attract larger donors/grants if you were able to get DGR status. If you do decide to explore further the option of joining up with an existing org, then I have found there are pros and cons of this (I've worked both sides of the scenario). To mitigate this - it might be possible to find an organisation that shares your passion/vision and are happy to create a detailed MoU so that you lower the risk of your initiative getting swallowed up/diluted or the funds used for something else. Another potential option is whether its possible to find a partner organisation that will let you route any donations through them (so the donor can get tax relief) and you can stay independent (with full transparency to the donor etc and restrictions of the donation). Keep us posted on what you decide, and happy to try and answer any other questions.

Lucy Boddam-Whetham on Apr 27, 2020
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I have thought a lot about it and discussed with my (new) team and I think we will stay independent for now, but as we grow there might be a more desperate push in one direction for income or legal reasons. Especially as the team develops, it may be easier to form more robust roles and be able to fit within a certain mould more clearly.

Thank you so much for all your help and advice, its given me a lot of valuable insight and stopped me from rushing into anything I might regret!

Jessie Panazzolo on Apr 29, 2020
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Hi Jessie, very interested to hear how you get on after a few months or so. Best of luck with it all.

Adam Barlow on May 04, 2020
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Hi Jessie, to evaluate the effectiveness of our Q&A section on WildHub, I was also wondering if you could please answer the following questions in this thread 1) did the information provided by other members help you decide what to do? and 2) what was your decision? Many thanks for your help and feedback and I hope all is well.

Thirza Loffeld on Oct 22, 2020
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