An agenda for the Future of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector in Northern Ireland

May 2018

Resilience and renewal


Increasingly organisations in our sector are focused on managing services and worrying about sources and amounts of funding and income 27. The current priority seems to be survival.

Whilst we cannot predict the future, as organisations we can be prepared for it or even better as a sector we can invent it by demonstrating through our work what might be possible. The case studies throughout this document set out a brilliant array of examples of how organisations are adapting and responding to changing needs and circumstances. 

If we want a better society, it isn’t good enough that a key sector that can contribute to this is only just surviving and worse that there is an absence of both policy, resources and decision making to deal with this challenge.

We need a strong, confident, risk taking sector. A strong resilient sector can work better and together with others and make more of a difference to people and places. 28


Some ideas for action

  • Further  analysis of  the components of resilience and sustainability in our sector and in subsectors will help  enable action to be taken through policy, practice, support and funding to support a more resilient and sustainable sector. 29 30
  • We need the urgent release of the current Northern Ireland dormant accounts and plans for future dormant assets to support sustainable development of the sector and its work and impact. 31
  • Grant making by public and independent funders is of critical importance to the work of the sector and its future development, there’s a need and opportunity to develop it through  increasing both transparency 32 and innovation. Such innovation can include longer term funding and simpler, more aligned reporting and new models of funding.


We need to identify and remove bureaucratic and other barriers to the efficient and effective functioning of organisations to enable them to focus more on making a difference. It may be timely to look again at reducing bureaucracy in funding to the sector. 33