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The value of small

This research shows that smaller local charities combine three distinctive features in how they support people and communities, which sets them apart from both public-sector providers or larger charities:

1. Who smaller charities serve and what they do: through plugging gaps left by other organisations; being the ‘first responders’ to people in crisis, and for creating safe, familiar spaces where people can receive practical support or be quickly linked to other local services because of the charity’s local networks. Examples in the research included the experiences of homeless people and refugees who were not being helped by public services but got the support they needed from small and local charities.

2. How smaller charities work: building person-centred relationships with clients for longer; being known for their ‘open door approach’ and understanding of local issues, and for being quick to make decisions because of flatter management structures. and reflecting more closely the diversity of their local communities through their staff and volunteers. Examples in the research included charities providing mental health services that were more welcoming and engaging for people who were turned away from public services because the issues they were facing were too complex or didn’t fit those organisations’ missions.

3. The role smaller charities play in their communities: using their well-established and far-reaching networks to act as the ‘glue’ that holds communities together. Examples in the research include charities helping communities cope better with funding cuts and service fragmentation. This combination of distinctive features in smaller charities is greater than the sum of their parts and offers additional benefits including: individual value for their clients, such as building confidence and self-esteem to help them prepare for and secure employment; economic value through charities buying goods and services locally and added value through recruiting more volunteers than larger charities and bringing in new funding from trusts and others which typically can triple the income they received from the public sector.

Access the full report here: http://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/value-of-small-final.pdf 

The Value of Small was commissioned by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and conducted by an independent research team comprising the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University; the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at the Open University.

The possible, not the perfect: Learning from funder responses to emergencies

In response to three different emergencies during Summer 2017 funders dispensed with ‘business as usual’ in order to provide urgent support to community organisations and services. We looked at what they did differently; what we can learn about responding effectively in an emergency; and what opportunities there may be for day-to-day grant-making practices. 

 

The collaborative programmes we looked at demonstrate that it is possible for funders to step outside their normal way of working. Drawing on their experience, we have proposed four areas where there is real potential to bring greater urgency, responsible lightness of touch and more open relationships into funders’ everyday work. 

Case Study Three: Volunteers Supporting Families (VsF), Southend

As part of the Volunteering and Early Childhood Outcomes evidence review we provided three case studies of current or recent volunteer programmes that illustrate and elaborate some of the points raised in the report. This is Case Study Three: Volunteers Supporting Families (VsF), Southend. 

The case studies are based on desk review of project documents and evaluation reports that include parents’ own views and experiences; and telephone interviews with key personnel in each of the projects.

Case Study Two: HENRY Parent Champions

As part of the Volunteering and Early Childhood Outcomes evidence review we provided three case studies of current or recent volunteer programmes that illustrate and elaborate some of the points raised in the report. This is Case Study Two: HENRY Parent Champions

The case studies are based on desk review of project documents and evaluation reports that include parents’ own views and experiences; and telephone interviews with key personnel in each of the projects.

Case Study One: Bradford Volunteer Doula Service

As part of the Volunteering and Early Childhood Outcomes evidence review we provided three case studies of current or recent volunteer programmes that illustrate and elaborate some of the points raised in the report. This is Case Study One: Bradford Volunteer Doula Service.

The case studies are based on desk review of project documents and evaluation reports that include parents’ own views and experiences; and telephone interviews with key personnel in each of the projects.

People, places and health agencies: Lessons from Big Local residents

Local Trust commissioned this research because health and wellbeing had been identified as a priority in many Big Local areas; and because the areas that were already working with health agencies said that this relationship was both rewarding and challenging. The research addressed two questions:

 

• Do Big Local areas and health agencies have common goals?

• How can they develop workable relationships?

Small charities and social investment

In our latest report we take a close look at the ‘social investment journey’ of 25 small charities, providing in-depth insights into their motivation, experience of the process, challenges encountered and the support they received. Identifying what is important to small organisations and what actions can improve the journey.

Thinking about sustainability

Expectations and requirements for ‘sustainability’ can become a source of misunderstanding and difficulty. This report looks at the meanings and assumptions behind the word and what funders can do to help.

Working in Place

In 2015, IVAR undertook a study of place-based approaches to funding, working with London Funders and overseen by a steering group of :


  • Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF)
  • Big Lottery Fund
  • City Bridge Trust
  • Comic Relief
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
  • Lankelly Chase Foundation
  • Tudor Trust
  • UK Community Foundations

The research aimed to shed light on the place-based approaches used by UK trusts and foundations, and identify learning about the pitfalls and successes of these approaches.

Using the findings from our research, we have produced a framework to support funders in the planning and implementation of place-based approaches. This is presented in the form of questions linked to key stages in the development of place-based working: rationale, design and delivery. The aim is to help funders to anticipate, address and review the challenges of place-based approaches in order to achieve their potential benefits.

12 steps to embedding social value priorities in health and care commissioning

This 12 step approach to embedding social value in health and care commissioning is informed by the learning from Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and IVAR’s joint three-year Health and Social Value Programme which worked in 12 areas with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), local authorities and the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector supporting the implementation of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. It sets out a tried and tested framework for commissioning authorities, VCSE and service users to agree, and implement social value priorities in health and care commissioning.