Headlines: December 5th, 2007

A scheme that helps voluntary and community groups to understand more about the issues surrounding generating income is to be expanded to give them a chance to learn from other Third Sector bodies that have first hand experience of delivering public services. ‘Only Connect’ will now help improve understanding about how public service delivery works.

The four-year-old scheme, run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Sustainable Funding Project and sponsored by Triodos Bank, will now cover not only open-market trading, but also public service delivery and loan finance. The expanded scheme will also try to break down some of the complexities of the procurement process. Many voluntary organisations fail to overcome the problems associated with service delivery and ‘Only Connect’ organisers say they recognise the barriers that make the process of securing a public service contract time consuming and taxing for the sector. With the changes being announced today, there is to be a 50 per cent increase in the number of bursaries being offered.

The ‘Only Connect’ scheme has been in operation since 2004 and has helped more than 60 organisations to visit others in the sector to increase their understanding of how to secure unrestricted earned income. To take part organisations must source the body they would like to visit. They will be now be given 150 pounds towards travel expenses and their time, instead of the previous amount of 100 pounds. The consultation fee paid to organisations that host the visits will rise to 200 pounds.

Sue Cooper, from Triodos Bank, said, “Only Connect is a simple, but exciting idea. Hundreds of charities and voluntary organisations across the country know how to run financially sound businesses that directly contribute to their success. Helping to share their expertise could have far-reaching benefits.”

Organisations wishing to take part can fill in an application form, which can be obtained from NCVO. www.ncvo-sfp.org.uk