A major new project aims to rebalance the relationship between large and small voluntary organisations in public services.
Collaborative work between NCVO, AVECO and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, will explore how voluntary organisations of different sizes can work better together in bidding for and delivering public services.
The move follows concern that smaller organisations are being squeezed out of public service delivery, in part by the practices of larger organisations as well as by commissioning and procurement processes. There are also concerns that, as a result, smaller organisations are struggling to survive with many facing closure. The project will explore the extent to which this is the case and any drivers behind it by listening to large and small voluntary organisations.
The project, known as ‘Rebalancing the Relationship’, aims to ‘look under the bonnet’ of current bidding and commissioning practices. A call for evidence to be launched in coming weeks will seek views from the sector. This evidence, combined with further desk-based and qualitative research, will form the basis of a research report expected in the autumn.
The report will inform a series of engagement events with voluntary organisations to develop recommendations to improve current practices, which will be the subject of a consultation with the sector, ahead of a final report early next year.
While the project will consider the wider commissioning environment, the partners expect the focus of their recommendations to be on how organisations themselves can take action to improve how they work with others.
The work will be overseen by a small steering group made up of the project partners and individuals with expertise in leading both large and small voluntary organisations.
A wider advisory group will be asked to provide feedback and advice to the project, and the partners are also today asking those who would like to express an interest in joining the advisory group to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive at NCVO, said:
‘For the best outcomes for people using public services, we need a system that allows a range of organisations to flourish and deliver high quality services.
‘We want to look under the bonnet of current commissioning practices to explore the issues faced by organisations of all sizes. We will then work with voluntary organisations to explore new ways of cooperating to ensure the long-term sustainability of organisations of all sizes across the voluntary sector delivering public services.’
Vicky Browning, chief executive at ACEVO, said:
‘Many ACEVO members tell us that one of their biggest challenges is a commissioning environment that doesn’t meet the needs of their organisation, and by extension the needs of the people they support. Leaders of voluntary organisations have a vital role to play in driving change and modelling new ways of working to create a more balanced system. We are excited to work with NCVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation to explore this issue together.’
Paul Streets OBE, chief executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said:
‘We know that commissioning and contracting is a significant challenge for many charities and of course it needs reform. But voluntary organisations themselves have choices as to whether and how they bid, contract and collaborate.
‘Both smaller and larger charities bring distinctive benefits which are too often being lost. It's vital that we rebalance the relationship between large and small charities to find a new way forward that best harnesses both the value of small and the capacity of larger for our mutual ambitions of ensuring people can access the services they need and trust.’
- Lloyds Bank Foundation are providing a grant of £85, 700. NCVO will receive £62, 000, and ACEVO will receive £24, 000. NCVO will contribute £22, 000 in kind. This funding will cover staff time to deliver research and events, as well as associated expenses.
- NCVO represents the voluntary sector and volunteering, with over 14,000 members from the largest household-name charities to the smallest community groups.
- ACEVO is the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. ACEVO provide support, development and an inspiring, collective campaigning voice for over 1,150 individuals including the leaders of small, community based groups, ambitious medium-sized organisations, and well known, well-loved national and international not-for-profits.
- Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales partners with small and local charities who help people overcome complex social issues. Through long-term funding, developmental support and influencing policy and practice, the Foundation helps those charities make life-changing impact. The Foundation is an independent charitable trust funded by the profits of Lloyds Banking Group as part of their commitment to Helping Britain Prosper. For more information visit www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk
- In 2018 Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales published new independent research, The Value of Small, from a partnership led by Sheffield Hallam University. This research highlighted the distinctive value of small and medium sized voluntary organisations and found that 84% of local government funding goes to larger voluntary organisations. For more information visit https://www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/ourimpact/news/2018/06/18/value-of-small/