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VCSE Infrastructure bid – survey results

image shows Ellen Rudge - a cis white woman wearing a red top
Ellen Rudge
6 June 2024
ALVERTON MANOR, TRURO , CORNWALL : Attendees during the Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum event on March 28th 2024, photographed by Hugh Hastings for Cornwall VSF.

ALVERTON MANOR, TRURO , CORNWALL : Attendees during the Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum event on March 28th 2024, photographed by Hugh Hastings for Cornwall VSF.

VCSE survey helps us understand what support organisations would like to see provided by an infrastructure bid.

In March 2024, a survey was circulated through Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum networks, Inclusion Cornwall and other connections to understand what services voluntary and community sector organisations would find valuable in running their business.

Summary by Gill Pipkin

A total of 85 organisations responded to the survey providing valuable insight into the requirements for support to help them become more effective and sustainable.

Over 76% of respondents have an income under £100,000, with 3.5% having a turnover over £1m (3 organisations). This reflects the make up of the voluntary and community sector in Cornwall which is mainly populated by smaller organisations.

75% of organisations have fewer than 5 members of staff, with a further 12% having between 5 and 10. Only 1 organisation (1.18%) has over 100 members of staff.

28.24% of organisations had between 0 and 5 volunteers, 23.53% between 5 and 10 and 27.06% between 10 and 25 volunteers. 5.88% (5 organisations) of respondents had over 100 volunteers.

Most respondents were small organisations relying more on volunteers than staff.

Organisations who participated cover a wide range of themes with the most common being health and wellbeing, children and young people and mental health. Other areas specified include end of life care, burial grounds, community magazine, lonely people, education, tree nursery, skills development, criminal justice, climate and energy and Post Office.

Participants were asked specific questions on what sort of help they would like to be able to access. The highest responses were:

  • Finance – ongoing bookkeeping or financial support that they would be prepared to contribute to
  • HR – support with developing policies and procedures
  • Governance – support with developing policies, procedures and risk management
  • Volunteer recruitment and retention – volunteer development
  • Funding and bid writing – help with preparing a funding pipeline
  • Training and Development – fundraising, leadership and management

Coaching and mentoring for individuals and groups was requested by 40 organisations.
Other requests for training included:

  • Social media training
  • L3 Teaching qualifications.
  • Marketing on a small budget
  • GDPR training
  • Additional support around SEND provision
  • Survey Monkey
  • Systems and organisation
  • IT file sharing

The survey asked how respondents wanted to receive the support. Most people would like the training online or in person, with many wanting coaching and mentoring, access to specialist help or a dedicated resource.

The final question asked for more information about the support required and how it would make a difference. These fell into 5 main areas:

Organisational

  • Enabling development in line with other VCSE organisations so values and principles align
  • Online or evening sessions as we work full time outside the organisation
  • Shared services of a bookkeeper, HR, admin, promotion to reduce costs
  • Access to a telephone helpline for specialist support and Trustees.
  • Access to a point of contact who ‘knows us’.

Governance

  • More structure and policy particularly for setting up and scaling up
  • Setting up basic documents and risk assessments
  • Business planning and strategy
  • Help setting up a social enterprise arm of the business.

Finance

  • Finance training including use of accounting software, creating budgets, spreadsheets, payroll
  • How to cost courses and activities.

Funding and fundraising

  • Collating, evaluating and translating data for future funding bids
  • Support with fundraising so it doesn’t detract from day to day operations
  • Helping people who may struggle with funding applications – neurodivergent
  • How to access funding and creating a fundraising strategy, bid writing.

HR and Volunteering

  • How to succession plan with volunteer led groups
  • Volunteer recruitment, retention and mentoring – particularly attracting younger people to volunteering
  • Accreditation
  • Leadership training and development, coaching and mentoring
  • Support with SEND provision
  • Help with DBS checks and a free platform to support this
  • 77% of respondents said they would be happy to discuss their requirements further and contact will be made to follow this up

Further information on the responses can be found in Appendix 1.

Next steps

A funding bid has been submitted to the National Lottery to provide Organisational Development Workers, support with monitoring and evaluation and a budget for training and specialist support. This will enable many of the requests to be addressed.

In the meantime, options that could be developed that wouldn’t require funding could include:

  1. Identifying and connecting those organisations who require bookkeeping or financial support and would be prepared to pay to see if they can collaborate to access some support together
  2. Identification of free resources such as Charity Excellence for the provision of policies and procedures.

Appendix 1 – Tables and Responses

Organisational information

VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support

Support required

VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support
VCSE Infrastructure bid for grassroots support