Successful capacity building: is there a greater challenge in rural areas?

Mordaunt, Jill and Reid, Kristen (2008). Successful capacity building: is there a greater challenge in rural areas? In: Revealing ruralities: exploring issues for the VCS in rural areas, 12 Nov 2008, Manchester, UK.



As the funding environment of voluntary organisations becomes increasingly competitive (Reichardt et al 2008) developing the capacity of voluntary organisations to be come self-sustaining and less reliant on short-term funding assumes a greater importance. NCVO has hosted a Sustainable funding project since 2000 and in 2006 the Wales Council of Voluntary Action launched its own outreach project to develop the capacity of organisations in Wales. However, the funding situation is different in Wales. There are very few large organisations and only one UK national organisation has its headquarters in Wales (Collis, 2007). Many organisations are very small and isolated from each other by the geography of the country. Is developing the capacity of organisations in this context more challenging?

The authors have been working with WCVA to evaluate this project since it started. We have developed case studies, evaluated their website, undertaken a qualitative evaluation of their training delivery and are currently undertaking a longitudinal evaluation of their work with sustainable funding champions. This paper draws on that work and reports on our findings to date. The paper will explore some of the assumptions about sustainability and the challenges this poses particularly in more rural and isolated areas based on the evidence we have gathered.

Initial findings indicate that organisations approach funding sustainability in very different ways. For some, it is a matter of diversifying funding; for others, it is setting up income-generating plans as part of an overall scheme to move toward a social enterprise model.

The structure of the organisations and how sustainability is approached by different members of the organisations will affect the success of new sustainable approaches. In many cases, organisations need both a ‘champion’ both to promote changes in and secure the buy-in of their board members.

These and other challenges have implications for how a model of sustainable funding can be disseminated throughout the Welsh voluntary sector.

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