My ten minute stint on the Mark O’Donnell Show on BBC Radio Wiltshire this morning to discuss charitable giving in the recession, evolved into a wide-ranging chat about all things charitable as these opportunities can fortunately become.
Collaboration between charities was one of the many questions we covered so it was good to be able to talk about the strong track record of medical research charities in this regard. We didn’t talk about mergers which is often the next question on people’s lips.
But given the fashion for developing scientific formulas for everything, from happiness to how Wayne Rooney calculates the flight of a ball, I wondered afterwards whether it is possible to develop formulas for calculating the likely success of a collaboration or merger.
In terms of the latter, the public assumption is certainly that 2+2 = 4 or even 5. But actually the reality might be 2+2 = 2. Not only are there the costs and difficulties of merging two different organisations, but one also has to consider the reduced profile and fundraising potential that can result from having just one rather than 2 or more organisations fighting an issue’s corner. In other words, such a move might be an administrator’s dream but it might not actually serve the greater good.
All the above serves to illustrate why I am no mathematician. Nonetheless, if you really are interested in gaining some insight into the considerations that lie behind such ventures then this generic article from Charity Times from three years ago is rather good.