Research: Share, Celebrate, Grow

We sent a survey to charities and groups to find out more about the state of voluntary sector in Somerset. 

This research project was launched in Autumn 2016 in partnership with Somerset County CouncilSomerset Community FoundationCommunity Council for Somerset and Engage Voluntary Sector Development

Read the full report here

Link to accessible version

This report is the first in-depth review of the state of the VCSE sector in Somerset.

It is an opportunity to celebrate the great work being undertaken by so many organisations from large to ‘micro’ across the County but also to explore the key issues facing these organisations.  What we have found is a sector under pressure caught between reducing resources and growing needs for their services.

Two thirds of the respondents were ‘micro’ or small organisations but pressures were described by organisations of every size and capacity. There is, however, also what might be described as ‘optimistic determination’ with many organisations planning to deliver more services next year, many already working in partnerships and more planning to explore this option.

We will be using the findings of this research as a benchmark for future studies. We will also be providing feedback to funders and key stakeholders.

Considerations for Local Strategic decision makers and funders

  • To be clear about what they want from commissioned work, allowing enough time for organisations to work together and collaborate
  • Use grants to support good learning organisations as well as commissioning work
  • Re-consider the apparent emphasis on innovation rather than funding solid proven work in areas of need
  • All but the smallest organisations require some core costs to fund e.g. insurance, safeguarding training, volunteer expenses, office space, etc
  • Monitoring and evaluation requirements are important but need to be proportionate
  • Some investment required to support the wider sector to address development needs crucial to support thriving organisations e.g. communication, marketing , volunteer recruitment, fundraising, bid writing.
  • Continue to engage with the sector at an early stage to help shape services and proposals – opportunities within the new STP, etc
  • Invest for the wider sector to address the increasing demand for volunteers, to attract, recruit and retain a larger pool of volunteers.
  • Allow sector to play to its strengths
  • Celebrate what is already happening

Considerations for the VCSE sector

  • Should celebrate the work it is already doing both long-standing and new
  • As traditional types of funding continue to diminish organisations need to explore the options of different organisational forms and new ways of raising funds including social capital trading, crowdfunding, etc
  • Many organisations are already collaborating but there may be more opportunities to work in partnership, share resources and skills and explore new ways of working for the benefit of the people of Somerset.
  • Further develop skills in monitoring delivery and evaluating outcomes