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Exploring opportunities to align grant reporting

‘Funder-led. Bureaucratic. Time-consuming. Misunderstood.’ All words that have been used to describe UK grant reporting – the process (or processes) by which charities report their progress to funders. No matter how simple and clear an individual funder’s system might be, the current approach forces charities to repackage similar information for different funders, on different dates, with different word counts and in different formats.  

A group of funders and charities have developed a set of principles to make grant reporting a shared, more meaningful and mutually beneficial experience. These have now been published, and are being tested by nine independent funders. We are asking for feedback from UK charities and charitable trusts and foundations. 

In summer 2019, we will reconvene the group of funders and funded organisations who developed the principles to review and refresh them. 

Read more about the project here, or get in touch to join the group of funders testing the principles. 

Economic assessment of assets in community ownership- Power to Change

A study for Power to Change working in partnership with Centre for Regional Economic & Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. We will exploring community-owned assets through; literature review; mapping; economic assessment and case studies in local authorities.

Trust for London evaluation of funding plus activities

IVAR has been commissioned by Trust for London to evaluate its funding plus approach to supporting organisations. Trust for London’s approach encompasses a range of activity – from direct support provision, to commissioning research and convening networks. The evaluation will focus on whether their approach has contributed to the Trust’s ambition to increase the ability of funded organisations to influence policy in their areas of focus. The evaluation will examine this aim as well as shed light on any unintended outcomes. Through this evaluation, Trust for London hopes to gain a better understanding of effective grant making through funding plus activities.


This evaluation builds directly on IVAR’s extensive body of research and evaluation in the funding plus field, as well as expertise in working alongside trust and foundation staff, supporting them to evaluate funding approaches.

Shaping, changing and challenging practice: small charities and advocacy

Small voluntary and community organisations are at the heart of civil society approaches to tackling poverty, disadvantage, lack of opportunity and injustice, not just through the services that they provide, but through shaping, changing and challenging practice. This aspect of their work ranges from supporting individuals to understand their rights, through to attempts to change or challenge the status quo – such as influencing policy or social attitudes around a particular issue. IVAR is conducting a study that will take an in-depth look at the experiences of a group of small VCOs that are shaping, changing and challenging practice in order to produce useful, usable and, we hope, inspiring insights that other small VCOs can learn from.

Helping to Make Tech Imaginable and Usable for Small Voluntary Organisations

This study explores the barriers and opportunities that small voluntary organisations face in a digital environment, and the ways in which digital tools and approaches can play a positive role in addressing these challenges. This research is in partnership with the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST), and is supported by a small group of charitable funders. It aims to further understand how to make technology more imaginable and usable for SVOs.

National programmes and partnerships learning partner – Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

Ivar has been appointed as the Foundation’s learning partner for their national programmes and partnerships work. We will be reviewing the Foundation’s approach to the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes and partnerships to date as well as providing critical friendship to Foundation staff as they embark on developing future initiatives.

An important element of the evaluation will be understanding the role that an independent funder, such as Lloyds can play in supporting small charities to change policy and speak out on issues of injustice at local and national level. 


ACRE Network Village Hall Information and Advice research

IVAR has been commissioned by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) to conduct research that will help them to strengthen their advice and information service to village halls. Working with ACRE staff, the research looks at how this service is currently conducted and funded across the different regions and considers how it can be developed in the future

Building Health Partnerships

The Building Health Partnerships (BHP) programme aims to deliver transformational changes to health and social care through developing and building partnerships between the health sector, the VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) sector and local people; with a particular emphasis on facilitating patient participation in service design and reducing health inequalities.


We will provide tailored support for co-production to 10 areas, helping to more easily involve patients and carers in designing the services they use. These 10 Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) or Integrated Care System (ICS) areas will take part in two cohorts, with work in each area being led by a ‘core group’ formed of senior leaders from both the VCSE and the health and care sectors. The first five STP/ICS areas will be: 

  • Frimley Health and Care
  • Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria
  • North Cumbria
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership


Participating areas are be trying to break new ground and committed to trying things out at a locality level, then transferring or translating them to the wider local system. To date, this has included:


  • Gaining recognition for the role of mental health peer support workers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – watch the film
  • Helping healthcare professionals bring carers into conversations about patients in Herefordshire and Worcestershire – watch the film
  • Making it easier for organisations that plan local health services to support community groups by developing a shared set of aims or “outcome measures” in Humber, Coast and Vale – watch the film
  • A new programme to get early diagnosis for people with lung diseases in Essex


We will also support leadership training and develop a ‘champions’ network’ where community representatives and commissioners can share the best ways to ensure communities and patients are at the heart of STP/ICS’ plans. 


Learning from previous programmes is available here.


There are four elements to Building Health Partnerships:


  1. A series of bespoke, facilitated workshops in 10 STP areas to develop partnerships that drive transformational change, with activity behind the scenes to engage, motivate and share insights and learning across the UK. 
  2. Expert, bespoke King’s Fund leadership training and support for local collaborative champions across all BHP areas: people from different sectors and with different levels of experience who are in a position to influence, inspire and catalyse change.
  3. A Champions’ Network to cascade learning from BHP areas through events and online materials in order to motivate, inspire and mentor mixed groups in other STP areas to invest in collaborative, cross sector, multi-stakeholder work. 
  4. Bespoke resources, training and support for VCSE organisations outside of BHP areas to enhance their ability to contribute to improvement and change in local health and social care systems, as well as their capacity to support the active engagement of local people in service design. 

If you have any questions about this work, you can get in touch with us at

Evaluation of St John Ambulance First Aid Community Advocate Programme

IVAR has been asked by St John Ambulance to help evaluate the impact of their First Aid Community Advocate programme, a radically new approach to volunteering which involves recruiting, training and mobilising volunteers to advocate for the importance of first aid and provide training to vulnerable communities.

The evaluation aims to draw out learning that will inform the development of this initiative as it grows to reach more people. It will focus on understanding the impact on vulnerable target groups, as well as helping St John Ambulance to hone the tools and mechanisms they use to evaluate impact.

If you have any questions or for further information please contact: or

Learning Partner to Pears #iwill Fund: Young Volunteers in Hospitals

Pears Foundation, in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is leading a dedicated strand of the #IWill Fund focused on supporting the growth of inclusive, high-quality, youth social action opportunities through NHS Trusts and their respective charities.


We have been appointed as learning partner to the fund and will be working with Pears Foundation, the #iwill campaign, volunteer coordinators in funded NHS Trusts and partners. Over the next two years we will support the fund to identify and facilitate learning from the projects being piloted or developed through delivery of a peer learning programme. The programme will use a combination of remote and face-to-face delivery to respond to the needs of grantees. 

If you have any questions or for further information please do contact