The Two Main Challenges faced by the Third Sector
When running a third sector consultancy business, there are two topics that are never far from my client’s priority list: raising money; and spending money to make a difference.
In recent times, austerity measures have moved the goalposts for third sector funding. More organisations are completing for diminishing grant funds, and local and regional authorities are pulling back their funding from all but the most essential services as their central budgets are reduced.
At the same time as the funding market is becoming more challenging, many third sector organisations struggle to make a difference with the funding they have. Under-resourced teams of paid staff find themselves working less hours due to reduced budgets, while the demand for their services increases. The common solution is to run volunteer programmes, however these are some of the hardest to manage due to the lack of time to manage the volunteers as you would paid employees. There is little time for goal setting and performance reviews, let alone for finding out the best fit of volunteer role for the individual outcomes sought by the volunteer. So, with all of these competing pressures, what is a third sector manager to do?
Third sector organisations often spend as little as possible on external support, and often seek support services for free. This is in the mistaken belief that all of their money spent on non-service provision costs is wasted money, however with the services offered by a third sector consultancy, there should be a return on what should be seen as an investment.
For example, there are third sector consultancy fund raisers who can be paid to find funding from grant giving bodies who share the aims and objectives that you do. Many of these will also offer training if you wish to gain the skills yourself however some external help in this area can lead to real financial gains that enable you to help more beneficiaries.
A further area of third sector consultancy help is in developing a balanced portfolio of income from a combination of grants, activities and donations, and sustainable revenues from your activities. Many third sector organisations offer services that are beneficial not only to their service users but to other support agencies as well. The input of a skilled consultant can help to identify new conversations that can lead to shared budgets, or to other agencies applying for funding on your project’s behalf.
Finally, as with all operations involving people (which is all of them!), there are excellent third sector consultancies that can help you with management of people, teams, volunteers, and of course external partners such as corporate social responsibility.
So, where you have a need for help with either raising money, or spending it effectively, invest in a third sector consultancy and give yourself the chance of great returns.