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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Strength in numbers

Once upon a time, on the the first official day of lockdown dozens of third sector leaders got together on a magic thing called Zoom. We were summoned by ACOSVO (the third sector leaders network) and we came together because we wanted to share ideas, support each other and find out if anyone knew how to the hell to get off mute.

The third sector has always been good at coming together. We know it makes sense to help each other. But we also know that when it comes to making our case to others there’s strength in numbers. My experience is a story. Our experiences are an evidence base.

It was in this spirit that SCVO established The Scottish Third Sector Tracker[1]. This is longitudinal research following a cohort of third sector organisations and gathering data about their experiences. Initially the focus was on the impact of the pandemic on the sector but inevitably the focus has shifted to the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Evaluation Support Scotland is passionate about the value of third sector real time research to inform decision making – and the tracker is a prime example. The tracker of course tells a story of challenge: organisations, their staff and their beneficiaries struggling in tough times. But it also tells a story of the sector’s resilience and ingenuity and why our work should be supported. 

Funders, policy-makers and support organisations are using the data to inform their decisions about what the sector needs and how best to help.

I’ve found the tracker findings invaluable in shaping the work of my own organisation. Evaluation Support Scotland’s role is to make evaluation simple and useful so that organisations can evidence their impact and use learning to do their work even better. The tracker data informs that work.

The tracker findings are also useful to me personally as a third sector chief officer advising my board. The findings show me I’m not alone – others are struggling with similar challenges – and gives me insights into what decisions my board should be making.

Collective data means a stronger case for how to maximise the sector’s impact. The tracker is strength in numbers – quite literally!

So I’m delighted that the tracker continues. SCVO is always keen for more organisations to join the cohort and for ideas about how to make the tracker data even more useful and accessible.  So please get in touch with the project manager, Steve Grozier: steve.grozier@scvo.scot  


[1] The Tracker is funded by SCVO, The Scottish Government, The William Grant Foundation, and the National Lottery Community Fund. The project is supported by an advisory group including academics from The University of Glasgow, Evaluation Support Scotland, OSCR, Social Enterprise Scotland and Corra Foundation.

Last modified on 7 February 2024