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Building and Strengthening the Third Sector in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Building and Strengthening the Third Sector in Northern Ireland and Scotland

Chief Officers Third Sector (CO3) and the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO) are delighted to announce the launch of a project that will work with 100 Third Sector organisations in Northern Ireland and Scotland to help them better understand and strengthen their capacity.

The project, which has received a grant of £358,810 from the Big Lottery Fund, will use the online diagnostic Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) to help the groups to better understand their strengths and areas for development, allow support providers and funders to deliver more targeted support, and provide a comparative dataset on the capacity of the Northern Ireland and Scotland third sectors for the first time.

The project will also run workshops and one to one support for the groups that take part throughout the process to help them understand and address the findings of the assessment and share learning within the sector.

Nora Smith, Chief Executive of CO3, said:

“The Third Sector broadly understood as the vast array of charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises is undergoing a huge transformative process. Part of the challenge is understanding the capacity needs of their organisations, their areas of strength, and what support the leaders and their organisations need.  We want to ensure that through the CCAT assessment, third sector organisations will be better informed and gain a clear understanding of the forces at play within their organisation. This will enable them to best use this information to develop more robust responses in how they manage change, build their capacity and build their resilience to both internal and external factors.”

The Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) provides an organisational health check examining an organisation’s:

  • Adaptive capacity
  • Leadership capacity
  • Management capacity
  • Technical capacity

It also includes a measure of organisational culture since it has a significant impact of each of the above elements. When each organisation finishes the CCAT assessment they will receive a report to help them determine their strengths and recommend opportunities for improvement.  

Pat Armstrong, CEO of ACOSVO said:

“Path to Impact offers an exciting opportunity for third sector leaders to increase the effectiveness of their own organisations and make a valuable contribution to developing the capacity and sustainability of the sector as a whole.”

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said:

“The UK VCSE sector is already seeing the benefits of online support like diagnostic tools. They help groups understand their strengths and areas for improvement so they can make the best of their funding. This is a fast-evolving area and we will be listening to groups so that we can learn what works for them, and what doesn’t. This means we, other funders and the sector as a whole can constantly adapt to meet the needs of organisations.”


For further information on the proposal and/or to register your interest click here.