Trust Release Evaluation of CollaborationNI

Trust Release Evaluation of CollaborationNI

28 January 2016

The Trust are pleased to release the evaluation of our highly successful Collaboration NI initiative.

CollaborationNI is a programme commissioned by the Building Change Trust (BCT) and run by a consortium of NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action), Stellar Leadership and CO3 (Chief Officers Third Sector).

It has run since 2011 with, since 2014, a focus on supporting ‘collaboration of the willing for purpose’.

The evaluation was carried out by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research and was looking specifically at Phase Two of the initiative which ran from July 2014.

Since the start of Phase Two, over 500 organisations have engaged with CollaborationNI.

Support activity has included: 48 action plans agreed, 33 legal support sessions, 68 legal documents drafted, 34 expert facilitation sessions with 217 participants, and 82 in-house sessions with 316 participants. 

As well as this, CollaborationNI organised a conference, have another scheduled for 7 April 2016, carried out 21 follow-up support sessions and six policy symposia engaging with over 350 participants.

Collaboration NI has offered support to a very wide range of VCS organisations, including health, housing and advice subsectors.

As well as outlining the facts and figures, the evaluation report goes into detail on a number of issues affecting groups hoping to collaborate to best achieve their goals and objectives including what they call ‘Drivers for Collaboration’.

The range of topics groups approached CollaborationNI for advice on is fascinating. These included legal advice, hands on facilitation, information on models of collaboration, advice on how to form consortiums for funding applications and the overall governance considerations in relation to progressing collaborative work.

The depth of support required to work effectively is also apparent. For example, one collaboration had received three facilitated group work sessions, as well as governance input and guidance on the process that might lead to the prospective merged structure.

A wide range of other issues are outlined in the report including the quality of support offered, the challenges facing groups hoping to collaborate and how CollaborationNI is working to help overcome those challenges.

The Trust’s Director of Operations, Nigel McKinney, said: “We’re obviously very proud of the work CollaborationNI  have done and believe this was an impactful and crucial investment of the Trust’s time and resources.

“From where the sector was in 2008, when we opened; to where it is now and where it will be in 2018, when we close our doors – we feel groups and organisations are in a much better place to face up the challenges they face by working together.

“The challenge for CollaborationNI is now to make sure this practice is embedded in the sector in a sustainable way and that the lessons learned and taught to policy makers and Stormont and beyond”.