13 October 2015
Social business Catch22 today announces the acquisition of creative criminal justice charity Only Connect. The deal has been designed to foster innovation in public service delivery and will pave the way for a new type of relationship between smaller and larger sized charities.
The organisations have a strong shared heritage, developing ideas and exploring the future of public services together for several years. Collaboration began with Chief Executives Chris Wright and Danny Kruger, but through time has spread through both organisations, building relationships, partnerships and results.
This move is a demonstration of a new type of relationship between charities, in which smaller organisations are enabled to keep their identity and autonomy but to operate at scale through the support of larger, established partners.
Only Connect will continue to operate independently, retaining its brand, board of trustees, premises and charity number and will operate as wholly owned distinct business ‘unit’ within Catch22’s group structure. Only Connect will benefit from Catch22’s strategic support, and from its scale. Staff currently employed by Only Connect will continue in this employment, and all current frontline services and programmes that are funded or contracted will remain unchanged.
Post acquisition, Danny Kruger has moved to become Chairman of Only Connect, after ten years as founding Chief Executive of the charity. He has also taken the role of Chief Executive of the West London Zone, a collective impact partnership of charities working with children and young people set up by Only Connect in 2014. Separately, Danny has also been appointed to Catch22’s trustee board.
Mat Ilic, currently Strategy Director of Only Connect, will take full leadership of Only Connect and also joins Catch22 as Strategy Director, Justice.
Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch22, comments on the new strategic partnership:
‘I’m very excited to welcome Only Connect into Catch22.
‘We both share two parts of a bigger vision. We believe that public services require reimagining if better outcomes are to be experienced by the users of those services. We also believe that charities should deliver true social impact while proving their business credibility. Now is a time of opportunity to be exploring what that transformation will look like.
‘Catch22 has a history of fostering market innovation and new ideas, most recently through the launch of the Catch22 fellowship. Our support of Only Connect will allow it to focus on delivering innovative frontline services and once again underlines our commitment to supporting fresh thinking in the public sector.’
Danny Kruger, Chairman of Only Connect, commented:
‘We’ve admired Catch22’s vision and ambition for a long time and are thrilled to join the group.
‘The traditional charity model is ripe for revolution. Trust in charities is at all an all time low, making a focus on good governance and proven impact more important than ever. There is also a systemic flaw in the operating model of charities with high fixed costs relying on unpredictable levels of voluntary income. This makes it difficult to operate in a businesslike and forward thinking way.
‘Charities need to get financially stronger and safer – and the charity sector as a whole needs to rationalise. There are 1300 charities working in British prisons and thousands more supporting ex-offenders and youth at risk. We need to see more mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.
‘However, many smaller charities fear losing their identity in a merger. Today’s announcement shows that there is an alternative, one which will foster innovation and provide a platform for growth. We thank Catch22 for giving us this opportunity and look forward to working together.’