Partnerships & Development

Why work in partnership?

Working in partnership has many advantages for the women’s sector.

In recent years reduced funding opportunities, an increase in demand for women’s services, and the shift from public sector grant giving to commissioning has had a negative impact on smaller, specialist women’s services.

The process of commissioning services via competitive tendering has meant that women’s organisations are competing against each other and often against larger, generic national and private sector providers. For smaller, specialist organisations this is a huge challenge as resources are not so readily available to engage with complex and lengthy commissioning processes.

Working in partnership allows women’s organisations and services to support one another, sharing resources and expertise. By working together, women’s services can engage more effectively with the commissioning process with the aim of securing funding to increase their service capacity and safeguard their futures.


Partnerships in Action: Women’s Commissioning Support Unit

The Women’s Commissioning Support Unit (WCSU) is a 3 year pilot project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

The project aims to develop the strategic and delivery capacity of the women’s voluntary sector by establishing regional partnerships of women’s organisations in Greater Manchester, the North East, Cambridgeshire, and Birmingham.

Learn more about regional partnerships and their work here.

Organisations are encouraged to engage with commissioning opportunities through:

·         One-on-one support

·         Workshops, training and resources on key subjects such as developing partnerships; financial planning; bid writing and presentation skills, and so on.

·         Events and regional workshops designed to support and facilitate the development of networks, partnerships and consortia within the women’s sector.

·         Interactive online tools and resources, including self-assessment tools, templates, partnership agreements, and blogs.

·         Sharing examples of good practice and learning, including case studies of consortia and models of successful consortia working.

The project also aims to:

·         Increase commissioners’ understanding and recognition of the role and value of specialist women’s organisations

·         Produce an independent evaluation of the project assessing the impact of the WCSU.

To learn more about the Women’s Commissioning Support Unit, email