We launched the consultation on Dormant Accounts funding in October and have been out and about ever since listening to the Northern Ireland Third Sector.
Since October, we have hosted three major events in Belfast, Enniskillen and Craigavon – 280 people attended to tell us what they think.
As well as this, we’ve hosted, facilitated or taken part in 16 roundtable discussions with over 200 people and have received 22 written submissions as well as hundreds of emails, phone calls and conversations.
We promised that we would share what we are hearing throughout the consultation so this blog highlights some of the key themes coming through the conversations. We would love to hear back from you on what you think of what we’re hearing so far.
It’s important to reiterate that Dormant Accounts funding is not the same as National Lottery funding.
The policy directions state that this funding ‘should benefit the third sector in Northern Ireland, through projects/work primarily delivered by Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations to increase capacity, grow resilience and encourage sustainability’.
This list isn’t exhaustive but gives a sense of some of the things we’re hearing throughout the consultation.
Leaders across the sector are rarely funded and don’t have the time to lift their heads to think about and plan for the future.
Could Dormant Accounts funding help fill that gap and help to build a sustainable sector in the future?
There is a need to strengthen boards, committees and governance structures, ensuring the right mix of skills and training, putting all the appropriate policies and procedures in place to support an organisations’ purpose and activities.
Again, this is rarely funded but could investing in this help develop a more resilient sector?
Organisations should be supported to take time to consider options for diversifying their income and/or reducing reliance on public funding, ensuring all their work fits with their core purpose – rather than chasing project funding which can often lead to mission drift.
Would funding for this allow organisations to think longer term and be more sustainable?
Capacity building and Skills
We should recognise that there is a lack of understanding of the different social investment and finance options out there, as well as the other skills needed to translate vision and good ideas into action.
How would building this kind of capacity within the sector lead to its sustainability?
The sector needs to be supported to strengthen its volunteer bases, including attracting young people, providing pathways into leadership alongside appropriate training and recognised qualifications.
How could Dormant Accounts funding support this to help build sustainability and resilience within the sector?
With our own funding, we have seen there is lots to learn from other organisations operating in the same area or working on the same issues, but a culture of competition hinders collaboration.
How could investing in activities that connect organisations, not collaboration for collaboration’s sake, help build up capacity in the sector?
Digital skills and Communications
We’re hearing there isn’t enough time to focus on providing staff and volunteers with appropriate digital tools and skills to make them fit for the future. Alongside this, there is no capacity for organisations to develop the communications skills needed to tell the story of the amazing work they do to a wider audience.
Could funding aimed at digital skills and communications help build a more resilient sector?
We would love to hear what you think about these questions as well as any other thoughts you might have. Here’s how you can get involved:
- Join us at our last event in Derry-Londonderry on 12th December at 9.45am in the Guildhall – register your attendance by email
- Share your views, thoughts and comments – send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org