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 Fund people at the coal face, not snouts at the trough

NewyddionFunding for the voluntary sector should be directed away from infrastructure organisations and towards those struggling to survive on the front line, according to a leading anti-poverty charity.

Many second tier organisations (STOs) face difficult issues of quality, credibility, conflict of interest and overwork and a number of seem to have lost their sense of purpose and focus.

The claims, by City Parochial Foundation (CPF), came in a report just published, which said small groups in particular feel their voices are not heard while funders and outside agencies decide what they need. It also revealed a lack of clarity about where appropriate support for different kinds of groups at different stages of development might be found.

‘There are many STOs but who they benefit, how they do it and when their intervention is appropriate is unclear to those who might seek their help,’ it said. ‘This encourages haphazard working in the sector.’

The report recommended that over time, funding should increasingly be directed to front line groups to put them in a stronger position to purchase the help they need, from the source that can best provide it.

It called on funders to accompany the move towards putting ‘purchaser power’ in the hands of front line groups by supporting a process of education about the significance of the role of STOs – especially councils for voluntary services – in promoting the voice of the voluntary sector.



Commenting on the report, CPG chair Maggie Baxter said: ‘We do not expect everyone to agree with all the findings and recommendations, but we do hope it will start a debate and lead to significant improvements in how infrastructure support is provided and funded.’

Hackney Council for Voluntary Service was one of the organisations praised in the report for its good practice.
Chief officer Jake Ferguson said: ‘Second tier organisations need to be innovative in how we respond to the constantly changing strategic landscape but still keep a strong focus on advocacy whatever the cost or funding constraints. ‘Demonstrating to decision-makers that having second tiers around the table is to their benefit, is a constant requirement.’

The report will be discussed at a conference in London on 1 March. Building blocks – developing second tier support for front line groups, Building blocks



 
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