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We've Got It! Recognising, Understanding and Enhancing Third Sector Resilience

On Wednesday, 6 July 2016, Theresa Hodge, SENDPO's Policy Officer, attended The Big Event, an annual event organised by the three CVS organisations across East Sussex.  Although an East Sussex event, the issues discussed at the event are relevant to DPOs and the wider voluntary sector organisations in other areas.  In the report of the event on the Speakup website (, it says:

"Resilience can be broadly defined as the capacity to survive and adapt in the face of change, challenge and uncertainty.

Resilience is an outcome that emerges from a combination of internal characteristics, external resources, and relationships.

For any given individual, organisation, community, or sector, the resilience of that entity is intrinsically connected to and supported by the resilience of other entities.

Given the rate and scope of changes and uncertainties the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) is facing in 2016, a Big Event focused on recognising, understanding and enhancing our resilience seemed apt!

The Big Event 2016 was not a stand-alone event, but an opportunity to reflect on and contribute to broader processes in East Sussex.

At the SpeakUp Big Event 2016, we explored the resilience of the VCS in East Sussex in terms of: the resilience of the organisations, communities, and individuals that make up the sector; the internal and external resources that the sector (and its component organisations, communities, and individuals) can engage and develop; and relationships and connections within and beyond the sector".

After beginning the day with an advice fair, the conference began with two presentations which gave an overview of the latest thinking on resilience, the key components of resilience that already exist for the Voluntary and Community Sector in East Sussex, and the current challenges and uncertainties that the sector is facing.

After lunch participants were able to attend one of nine breakaway workshops, each of which explored particular practical strategies and tools for enhancing resilience.  These were:

  • Operation Shine! Improving your Personal Resilience, Health and Wellbeing
  • Building Financial Resilience
  • Managing Risk for Resilience
  • Fragile Assets: Practice That Supports and Strengthens
  • Community Resilience in Emergencies
  • Building Connections with Local Businesses
  • Integrated Localities: Embedding Prevention at the Heart of Integrated Locality Teams
  • Partnering and Collaborating in the Third Sector
  • New Models of Care, New Opportunities for Collaboration and Partnerships – ‘Accountable Care'

Theresa attended the workshop on "Building Financial Resilience" presented by Julie Eason from Julie Eason Consulting.  Julie gave a presentation, which began by discussing four routes to resilience which organisations could consider (merger, commercial opportunities, partnerships and fundraising.

Julie's presentation then went on to discuss what organisations need to fundraise.  Some particular points discussed included:

  • You can fundraise within even the smallest organisations successfully, and you can fundraise on a shoestring.
  • Start at where makes sense for you – don’t be afraid of failure but do your research – if you need an injection of cash tight now – legacy funding not your starting point.
  • Decide what you can afford to invest. Decide which form(s) of fundraising is / are right for you, and go for it.

Other areas for discussion were:

  • Getting professional
  • Getting creative
  • Partnerships
  • Why financial resilience matters
  • Avoiding whole or majority reliance on one funder
  • What excellence looks like
  • Getting ready to fundraise
  • Different ways of fundraising

The day finished with a plenary session, enabling participants to come back together to reflect on key lessons from the day and agree priority action areas for enhancing VCS resilience.