Tweet about this on Twitter Email this to someone Share on LinkedIn

Valuing the VCSE Sector in East Sussex

East Sussex County Council has commissioned IVAR to carry out research on the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector’s social, economic and environmental value and impact across East Sussex. The research will build on prior work carried out by ESCC and partners in 2011, which has since been used to inform policy, partnership working and service development. The research will also capture the effects COVID-19 is having on the sector, drawing on insights generated from IVAR’s COVID-19 support work for voluntary sector leaders and their funders.


The aim of the work will be to:


  1. Identify and present the scale, scope, impact and positive contribution – economic, social and environmental – the VCSE sector has on the lives of people and communities across the county every day;


  2. Gather views from the VCSE organisations on how they see the sector’s future and what needs to change, in the context of collaboration, service/activity delivery, funding, and governance; and the COVID-19 crisis.


  3. Enable the VCSE sector within East Sussex to clearly articulate key information on the present state and future aspirations of the local VCSE to funders, private and public sector leaders, and government departments.


  4. Present information in a way that makes sense at the county level, District and Borough level.


Covid-19 Response Work

Are you a VCSE leader?

We’re running 90 minute peer support sessions to share and explore the challenges you are currently facing. These are for up to 12 leaders at a time, and you can sign up here.


Do you fund or support VCSE organisations?


We are producing regular briefings on the challenges faced by VCSE organisations, and what support they need. The first was published on 9 April 2020.


These briefings are based on the challenges raised in the peer support sessions we are running. So far, these have been attended by over 180 leaders representing 17 fields and based across the UK.


Sustaining simplified funding beyond the Covid-19 crisis

Over the last decade there has been much talk of funders – particularly trusts and foundations – trying to become less burdensome, more straightforward and quicker in their dealings with applicants and grantees. For that to happen, they need to be ruthlessly clear about the purpose and necessity of their processes. The positive examples that we have seen – those described in The possible, not the perfect and, more recently, in our account of the Tudor Trust’s work in Hartlepool and in our collaboration with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation on better reporting – weren’t rushed or haphazard. Their preparation and execution were characterised by care, attention to detail and great sensitivity. But, critically, they were nimble and proportionate, sending a clear signal to others about what is possible when you are prepared to ‘step outside the normal’.


In the current context, as funders and voluntary organisations grapple with uncertainty, anxiety and complexity, we are all having do things differently. Many funders are seeking to provide assurance to their grantees through the continuing upheaval and disruption. Powerful tools include converting and committing to unrestricted funding – immediately and at least for the medium term – and offering extensions on grants ending in the next twelve months.


While it may be too soon for definitive answers on long-term strategy, there is a real opportunity for a more collaborative approach to rethinking the future and, in particular, funding practices, many of which may no longer be fit for purpose. In partnership with a group of funders and small charities from across the UK, IVAR is launching a Learning Review to identify opportunities for sustainable adaptations and innovations to funding processes and practices. We will be capturing and distilling the key features and aspects of funder responses to the Covid-19 crisis, before turning our attention to options for longer-term adaptations and innovations to funding behaviours and processes, and supporting funders with implementation – paying particular attention to the needs of VCSE organisations adversely affected by systemic barriers and burdensome practices.

This work is in partnership with: 

  • Barnardo’s Scotland
  • Beatfreeks
  • City Bridge Trust
  • Comic Relief
  • The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland
  • Corra Foundation
  • Counselling All Nations Services
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
  • London Funders
  • Maslaha
  • The Mercer’s Company
  • One25
  • Refugee Action
  • The Tudor Trust
  • Ubele Initiative
  • United St Saviour’s Charity
  • Unlock