The Transition Fund is government money to help voluntary sector organisations adapt to the new funding environment. It was set up because government recognised there will be fewer grants in the future from councils and other parts of the public sector for voluntary organisations; and that there are likely to be fewer but larger contracts. They saw that voluntary organisations will need to become more enterprising and fund themselves in different ways to survive.
Children North East applied for and I am delighted that we have been awarded £180,000 from the Transition Fund. Our application proposed, and the money will be spent in a number of ways. This is very good news for Children North East, it will enable us to adapt to a new era for the voluntary sector and help us to remain vibrant, relevant and effective.
We need external advice from a charity finance consultant to help us adapt our financial forecasting and budget monitoring to support income generation particularly spot purchasing. We also want to franchise some of our existing service models so that we can spread the benefit of our services to more children and young people, this will also need external advice to achieve.
We urgently need to improve marketing. In future schools and GPs rather than local authorities and PCTs will be purchasing services for children, young people and families so we must make sure they know about what we offer. Some of the grant will help with this.
Research and development is really important so that what we do remains relevant to the needs and wishes of children and young people in the region. So we will be investing more in that.
The Big Society is about opportunities for volunteers and getting more people involved in local charities not only in services (as we have done for over 30 years) but also fund raising and helping with the general running of the organisation. We also want to be able to provide apprenticeships, student placements and work opportunities for young people.Finally the public sector will still want to buy our services but one at a time (spot purchasing) rather than funding a whole service. Part of the grant will go towards supporting us to do that.
Monitoring this grant is very 'light touch', the government wanted to make it easy for voluntary organisations to spend the money wisely without too much bureaucracy. We can start spending the money immediately!