Praise for Office of the Third Sector's strategic partners

Reports written in March reveal positive comments about the NCVO, Navca and other sector organisations

The Office of the Third Sector has given generally positive assessments of the work of the umbrella and representative bodies that it provides strategic grant funding to, papers show.

Evaluations of 11 of the OTS' strategic partners, including groups such as umbrella bodies the NCVO and Navca, were made available last week following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The organisations are all given unrestricted grant funding of between £323,000 and £2.4m a year to primarily cover core costs and are assessed against a list of activities and outcomes.

In the reports, written in March, Navca is described as a "trusted adviser" that will criticise but also give praise where due, and the NCVO is credited with raising the profile of the sector.

Volunteering charity BTCV is lauded for demonstrating good value for money and showing the impact of volunteering.

Volunteer matching service TimeBank is described as "extremely useful" but has also been told it should refresh its aims. "I am particularly pleased that TimeBank is taking the opportunity of its 10th anniversary to conduct a review of its work," the OTS comments state.

"I do feel that the organisation needs to refresh its aims following a number of changes (driven by external and internal factors) in focus since its launch."

The Social Enterprise Coalition's positive relationship with the OTS is emphasised but its assessment says that a "number of key things have slipped" such as work on its ethnic minority strategy.

The assessments ask all strategic partners to rate their progress every six months according to various success measures, including influencing government policy, acting as an advocate for members and spreading information about the work of the OTS.

Partners are asked to acknowledge OTS's role as strategic funder, to offer free conference, workshop and seminar places to OTS officials and to ensure that the OTS is recognised as a "third sector champion" by local and national organisations.

Some partners have specific "outcomes and activities" to achieve as a result of the funding. For example, the NCVO is asked to make the case for government support for the sector, particularly on "budget, unclaimed assets and Gift Aid", to establish a members' assembly and to continue to lead the campaign for an EU-wide Compact-style agreement.

Strategic partners' funding settlements in 2009/10

£2.4m from an OTS grant worth £117m between 2008 and 2011

Volunteering England


Mentoring and Befriending Foundation


Social Enterprise Coalition




National Youth Agency



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