The third sector has an increasingly important role to play in shaping and delivering public policy in the UK. New opportunities are emerging as a result of Government commitments to localism, the Big Society agenda and expanding non-state provision of a range of services. Recognition is growing that charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises are often able to bring substantial expertise in particular policy areas, providing greater flexibility and innovation in the delivery of public policies than traditional state providers. Moreover, their ability to utilise their grassroots support fosters the energy and commitment of their volunteers to get results.
ICF GHK has a detailed understanding of the sector at a grassroots level. We have worked with charities at a local and national level, conducted numerous evaluations of programmes involving small, volunteer-led projects aiming to tackle issues in their communities, and provided capacity building support to social enterprises wanting to learn how to measure their impact (please see the examples). Several of our team have themselves also worked in the sector.
We offer four main services for third sector organisations: training workshops, evaluations, economic analysis and organisational development.
We believe that high quality research and evaluation can help to equip third sector organisations in capitalising on emerging opportunities in a number of ways:
They allow third sector organisations (TSOs) to provide evidence of the impact they are having. This is essential to successful tendering with government, particularly in the context of public spending cuts. Third sector organisations know the value of what they do but the demand for evidence – which must be in the language and methodologies of funders – is growing.
The process of monitoring and evaluation is one of learning. Monitoring and evaluation helps TSOs to shape their message and improve their understanding of the issues they are trying to address. In turn this can feed into more effective influencing activities with government and other decision makers.
With over 30 years’ experience of working with both public and third sector bodies, ICF GHK also has an in-depth understanding of the relationship between the sectors. Our insight at a strategic and national policy level makes us an ideal partner in research informing the development of the sector more broadly. We have evaluated the progress of community development finance institutions, reviewed national social enterprise strategy, studied the impact of development funds on TSOs, mapped the progress of community asset based development and undertaken numerous regional third sector capacity building studies.
Moreover, many of the policy areas of direct relevance to the work of the third sector are core areas of research for ICF GHK, examples being health and social care; children, young people and families; and the environment and green economy.
Please get in touch using the contacts below if you would like to ask questions or discuss possibilities. More information on our services is available here.