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Voluntary organisations

Get support

Every day we see voluntary organisations doing amazing work, often in trying and stressful circumstances. In every community, small groups and organisations work round the clock to improve quality of life and opportunity for local people. Home visits for the elderly; after-school clubs; skills training for teenagers; advice for people out of work; beds for people without a home – all provided at low cost, with minimum fuss. 


Some common areas of stress persist – here we set out those stress points and direct organisations to relevant resources. We share research insights to help organisation leaders to strengthen their practice, so that they can withstand the challenges, grasp opportunities and concentrate on what matters most to them.


Common stress points

  • Strategy & planning

  • Collaboration & partnerships

  • Assessing & describing impact

  • Funding & stability

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New microsite

We have developed a new microsite, designed to deliver our research in a useful and usable format for CEOs and Trustees of small voluntary and community organisations. We are planning to publish this new area of our website on 29 Jan 2018. 


If you would like to receive an email when this new resource has been launched, do get in touch with

Free resource coming soon

We work directly with voluntary organisations all across the UK through our research and through direct support.


Values and mission first

We believe organisations that flourish and thrive are those that are self-determining and able to seek, engage with and make use of support in order to learn, adapt and improve. So we encourage organisations to put their values and mission first to ensure that any changes they make are rooted in why their organisation exists and what it stands for. And we encourage funders to consider operating flexible funding that will help organisations navigate challenges and change.


More about core funding


Our approach

Our experience of delivering support to over 60 small social welfare organisations has found these to be the most valued elements of our approach. (Including grantees of the Tudor Trust, Travellers Aid Trust and Esmėe Fairbairn Foundation)


  • We begin with a practical problem or challenge
  • Our approach is rooted in an understanding of the history, values and context of each organisation
  • We act as a ‘critical friend’ to help organisations find their own realistic and feasible responses to the challenges they face

More about our work

More about our approach


Achieving a meaningful connection

Our support is carried out by a team that has worked in the voluntary sector for many years as volunteers, practitioners and trustees, as well as researchers. Team members have an extensive experience of supporting organisational development which enables us to establish a meaningful and useful connection with each organisation.This in turn gives them the confidence to be open and honest with us about the challenges and choices that they face.


As well as delivering practical, hands-on support to organisations (for example, drafting a funding bid, facilitating board meetings) we always encourage organisations to step back from their immediate, pressing concerns and reflect on fundamental questions about their organisation: Who are we? What are we trying to achieve? What do we need to do to get there? This enables us to build confidence and leave a legacy that extends beyond our direct involvement.

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Drawn from IVAR’s research & support with 180+ small and medium sized organisations on behalf of:

In practice

Learn more about IVAR