Charities and not-for-profit organisations – new challenges, fresh opportunities

With the recent announcement public sector budget cuts, many people are asking about the future for the Charity and voluntary sector. A common theme that seems to be occurring within the sector is the move from grant to contract funding. With it comes a different culture such as the concept of an exchange transaction and a service level agreement which could lead to the charity undertaking trading activities for the first time.

The Coalition Government is deep in consultation with various parts of the third sector, indeed this consultation process is setting the foundations of the ‘Big Society’. With emphasis being placed on demand driven services it is more imperative than ever that charities ensure their voices are heard and adapt their strategies to meet new priorities, funding programmes and trading environments.

The implication for charities and other not-for-profit organsiations is that many will have to adapt their current ways of working to meet new requirements of public service delivery. This presents enormous challenges as well as exciting possibilities.

Wessex Partnerships and its delivery partners bring together a wealth of skills and know-how based on 10 years of delivering successful outcomes for the Third Sector.

We can offer your organisation support from the following value added services, each of which has been specifically tailored for community, voluntary, charitable and other not-for-profit organisations:

Our focus is to assist you in three areas:

We have built an outstanding track record in identifying funding opportunities and preparing successful funding applications, together with raising the professional capacity of Third sector organisations.


Tendering and Funding Support

Tendering for service delivery contracts

Like many charitable, not-for-profit and other Third sector organisations we work with, you may increasingly be looking for fresh ways of maintaining or developing added value services for individuals and communities.

From our 10 years experience of working with DWP, LSC / SFA, JCP, ESF and other major funds, there are a number of considerations in deciding whether and how to bid. For instance all of these projects will be delivered by a lead provider, but because of the size and scope of the contracts, smaller frontline third sector organisations struggle to access this opportunity. These smaller organisations do though have a valuable part to play in engaging with and supporting customer groups. Opportunities for third sector organisations to draw down funding are therefore greater at a sub-contracting level. The most reliable way for a third sector organisation to become a sub-contractor is to make a direct approach to the provider in advance.

Alternatively, by forming a bidding partnership you can co-operate with other third sector organisations engaged in skills and employment, and then be part of a body that can realistically compete as an prime provider. Bidding as partnerships could allow third sector organisations to access high value contracts such as ESF, without going through the ‘middle man’ provider. A partnership approach also allows voluntary and community organisations to be more competitive without abandoning their core mission/values.

Wessex Partnerships can act as a third sector ‘managing agent’, to streamline the administration of the partnership, prepare tenders on behalf of the group and help address some of the key challenges of working in partnership, for instance the time and resources need to be invested in preparing to bid in partnership.We can help you to meet the challenge of improving service quality and delivery within ever-tighter budgetary constraints through successfully tendering for external funds and public service contracts.

Securing sufficient on-going revenue to cover project activity and core costs will continue to be one of your major concerns. You may be seeking to achieve a more co-ordinated approach to funding to enable you to move away from ad hoc applications to a more joined-up and strategic approach. We can help you meet new challenges by gaining additional funding and public service contracts from a range of UK and European sources. We have a 75% success rate for writing winning tenders on behalf of our clients. 

Identification of funding sources

Our weekly funding alert service helps organisations to remain abreast of potential funding opportunities, including a risk and success probability rating.

Using our wide-ranging expertise we will identify and qualify tender and grant opportunities for you, advising on the appropriate service areas on which to concentrate resources as part of an overall funding strategy. This will include the preparation of a convincing case for support, which will highlight the importance of your work, your past achievements, your present activities and your future aspirations.

Preparation of grant applications

We can assist at every stage of the application process from help with completion of pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to help you pass the first hurdle through to preparing high quality grant applications and tenders. This will include all aspects of project or service development, drafting and submitting the application. We have a formidable reputation for writing successful applications, with a 75% success rate.

Wessex Partnerships has supported over 50 Third sector organisations and secured over £50m worth of funding.


Develop your in-house professional skills

The alliance of Wessex Partnerships and its delivery partners bring together a wealth of skills and know-how based on 10 years of delivering successful outcomes for the Third Sector. Our collective experience has furnished us with unrivalled expertise in the following areas:


Business Strategy Development

Together, we can help your organisation reach its full potential. We will work with you to help identify appropriate short, medium and long term revenue opportunities based on a candid assessment of your potential. This will include the following:


Leadership and management

We provide tailored skills development and support for senior management that offers relevant, effective and challenging learning opportunities to:


Implementation of efficient systems

Budget holders must feel confident in your organisation when next choosing where and who they buy from. We can provide support in the development of business processes and the implementation of more efficient in-house financial and quality systems so that your services can be delivered more effectively to end users.


This is an area in which the Third sector has invested very little because it has not previously had to sell its services.  We can help you to develop an effective marketing strategy for a range of markets such as individual budget holders, self-funders, other third sector organisations and public and private sector purchasers. This will include an analysis of the potential of these target audiences and areas of operation, best prospect identification and profiling.

Contract Management

We can support you in negotiating and agreeing contract outputs and outcomes, developing full cost recovery budgets and evaluation methodologies. This will help provide you with an objective analysis of what has happened and why and in understanding contract compliance issues.


A major challenge for Third sector organisations that are starting up or going through a period of change is defining your organisation’s overarching structures and strategic development. We can help you in areas such as charity or CIC registration, demonstrating financial stability, establishing minimum levels of performance management for staff and its implications.

Partnership working

When tenders for a public sector contract are too large for one organisation to deliver alone, you may consider working in partnership with others. Partnerships require time and tact to become established and you my need a lead organisation to facilitate the process.

Effective partnership working has always been a core part of our ethos. We can help facilitate the process of joint working with other organisations and discuss with you the advantages and potential pitfalls. We run partnership workshops to scope out each organisation’s particular role in the proposed or existing partnership and to arrive at agreed quality standards for delivering public services.


Our services are tailored to suit your specific needs and fees will vary according to the scope of the project. Our flexible approach means that we can develop cost-effective solutions to suit all needs and all budgets. Our fees are always pre-arranged.

To find out how we can help your organisation, give us a call today.

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