"While there is an opportunity for funders to think differently about how we invest in the capacity building needs of our grant holders, it is important that we ensure the third sector has a greater role to direct and inform the areas of support that we provide our grant holders."
As I see it, one of the issues with ‘capacity building’ is that it’s often driven by those who commission or fund the support, with a short-term solution or goal in mind. Some of these support initiatives could simply be described as training - focused on developing a specific set of skills and knowledge, rather than developing the capacity of an organisation. I also think that quite often, providers are put into a position where they are competing with each other, rather than being encouraged to collaborate.
There are a number of exisiting challenges that may have prevented us from moving towards the collaborative commissioning and delivery of capacity building support for the third sector. However, I believe that the current opportunities and potential benefits outweigh those (perceived and real) obstacles, allowing funders to focus our collective resources into longer term engagement, support, and relationships with our grant holders.
The Robertson Trust is considering how we can add value to support the capacity, skills and capability of the organisations we fund, and the third sector more broadly. Although we already offer some support for grant holders, we want to review what this is and how it is delivered to ensure that we are supporting capacity and skills development within the third sector as effectively as possible. While we carry out this discovery work, we want to ensure the continued support of our grant holders to respond to immediate challenges or help them to think differently and act strategically. As part of this, we have convened a small group of funders to help build a picture of our exisiting capacity building support offers, new areas of need emerging, as well as to identify any duplication or opportunities for future collaboration or partnership working between funders.
While there is an opportunity for funders to think differently about how we invest in the capacity building needs of our grant holders, it is important that we ensure the third sector has a greater role to direct and inform the areas of support that we provide our grant holders. We also want to know where the third sector believes the Trust should be more proactive in our support for the third sector in Scotland, so that organisations become stronger, more resilient and are better able to meet the needs of the individuals and communities they support.
While we consider our longer-term capacity building plans and approaches, we are asking you to help inform our thinking about ‘what works?’ and ‘what you need’. We want the sector to contribute to the design of a programme of skills and learning, taking the format of workshops and masterclasses, over the coming months. This will help us to respond to the challenges organisations are currently facing whilst also informing the development of a longer-term package of support. To help us achieve this, please tell us what you think would be the key areas of support that your organisation would most benefit from by completing the survey below:
While we know there is an urgent need for support across a number of areas, we have a desire to avoid duplication and to change the way we provide support throughout the duration of our new strategy. To achieve this, we want to work with a wide range of partners and stakeholders (both in the short and long-term) to strengthen the third sector’s capacity, skills and capability. This in turn will contribute to our strategic aim of improving the lives and wellbeing of people affected by poverty and trauma across Scotland.