NCVO, Acevo and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales have announced a new project to help smaller voluntary organisations bid for and deliver public services.
The project, Rebalancing the Relationship, will explore why voluntary organisations struggle to win contracts and will examine how organisations of different sizes can work together to bid for and deliver public services. It aims to create guidance about best practice in the sector.
There have been concerns that smaller charities have been squeezed out of public service delivery partly because of the behaviour of larger organisations, as well as commissioning processes.
Vicky Browning, chief executive at Acevo, said: "Many Acevo members tell us that one of their biggest challenges is a commissioning environment that doesn’t meet the needs of their organisation, and by extension the needs of the people they support. Leaders of voluntary organisations have a vital role to play in driving change and modelling new ways of working to create a more balanced system. We are excited to work with NCVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation to explore this issue together."
To develop the research, the bodies will consult representatives from across the sector as well as undertake desk-based qualitative research.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive at NCVO, added: "We want to look under the bonnet of current commissioning practices to explore the issues faced by organisations of all sizes. We will then work with voluntary organisations to explore new ways of cooperating to ensure the long-term sustainability of organisations of all sizes across the voluntary sector delivering public services."
Paul Streets, chief executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said: "We know that commissioning and contracting is a significant challenge for many charities and of course it needs reform. But voluntary organisations themselves have choices as to whether and how they bid, contract and collaborate.
"Both smaller and larger charities bring distinctive benefits which are too often being lost. It's vital that we rebalance the relationship between large and small charities to find a new way forward that best harnesses both the value of small and the capacity of larger for our mutual ambitions of ensuring people can access the services they need and trust."
The research will conclude in autumn 2019, with a report published early next year.
Lloyds Bank Foundation is providing a grant of £85,700. NCVO will receive £62,000, and ACEVO will receive £24,000. NCVO will contribute £22,000 in kind. This funding will cover staff time to deliver research and events, as well as associated expenses.