NAVCA Blog - 11/07/2012
The following blogs were posted on 11/07/2012.
Bill Freeman, Director of Development, NAVCA
In almost every local authority in England I can work out who I need to contact if I want to connect with the voluntary sector in that area – it’s the local NAVCA member.
Being the “go-to” organisation for anyone who wants to help or hear from our sector is an amazing privilege and an enormous responsibility. But changes in the policy and funding environment for NAVCA members have made it even harder to fulfil the promise that comes with occupying such a position.
Demand-led capacity building is being cast as an idea which could end the need to rely on a single organisation working in this way. This is a big mistake in my view. If it’s going to be done well, then demand-led capacity building needs a go-to organisation to make the system work. NAVCA members are perfectly placed to perform such a role, but they need to be leading the way so they don’t get written out of the script.
How does it work?
There’s been lots of dialogue and consultation about this in the last couple of years. In demand-led schemes organisations needing or seeking support are given money or a voucher to purchase it directly. The main benefits are cited as:
- greater choice, control and tailoring for recipient organisations; and
- a broader range of suppliers driving up quality, innovation and efficiency.
Most systems still involve public and charitable funds, so safeguards need to be in place such diagnostic assessment to get an accurate picture of needs and a quality assured list of providers.
We think it can work, but it needs to be built around VCS infrastructure which already has the reach, profile and trust in place to make it work.
Some obvious concerns spring to mind
This is experimental and there’s still not much evidence of the effectiveness of such schemes compared to the results we achieve for groups with the systems of support we use now.
It makes tackling sector-wide issues harder and might mean less investment in supporting new and emerging groups (you can’t give a voucher to something that doesn’t exist yet). It also lends itself more to one-to-one support, but we know a lot of great capacity building gets done with groups of organisations.
We’re worried that it decouples the connection and benefits derived from funding organisations to do both representation and capacity building. We’re also concerned about the impact on the health of the local voluntary sector if the system favours private sector providers and those taking resources out of the local social economy.