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briefing paper

Steadfast endurance

Briefing 13 on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

December 2020

Ben Cairns, Emily Dyson, Liz Firth, Rebecca Moran


This thirteenth briefing shares the experiences of 23 leaders participating in online peer support sessions between 11th and 30th November, and our reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.



Three concerns stand out as front of mind for VCSE leaders:

  1. The limitations of online: ‘We’re an organisation that’s based on human relationships, warmth and layers of communication that don’t happen remotely but face-to-face. Everyone has English as a second language, so phone calls are more difficult.’
  2. Sustaining their teams: ‘I’m finding it emotional. We’re not machines.’
  3. Thinking about ‘what next’: ‘At our board away day the focus was deliberately to not think about the here and now, but to focus on the future. Everyone found that very refreshing.’

In terms of support from funders, VCSE leaders’ needs remain much the same. We can highlight three ways to offer meaningful and practical support:

  1. Long-term, unrestricted funding has never been more vital: ‘I’m saying to funders: “the numbers are down but this is what we have done for these particular clients”; and they’ve focused on quality, not numbers.
  2. ‘We are not machines’: ‘You somehow have to prove that you are desperate enough for the money but also that you’re still functioning and you’re not a liability’.
  3. The VCSE sector needs champions: ‘When people lose their jobs, have poor mental health, people will come to us, but we may not be able to support them if we are not supported. The sector is in trouble.’


Read the full series of briefings here


(Briefing 13 - Steadfast endurance - IVAR December 2020)

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