Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund evaluation: final report

Final report of the evaluation of the CYFEI and ALEC Fund.

Capacity, skills and knowledge

The CYPFEI & ALEC Fund helped sustain and improve the capacity, skills and knowledge of third sector organisations supported by the Fund. Flexible core funding had a significant role in providing funded organisations with the capacity to focus on planning and service delivery. Alongside funding, Corra Foundation’s Support and Engagement programme was highlighted as an important factor in improving skills and knowledge.


Throughout this evaluation, third sector organisations have continually identified the availability of core funding, which can be applied flexibly, as the most significant benefit of the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund. This has enabled the funded organisations to sustain and in many cases enhance their organisational capacity. They have repeatedly stated the importance of such funding to the organisations and emphasised how it leads to benefits that are far greater than the face value of the awards. As well as flexibility, the funded organisations also highlighted the benefit of core funding over a three year period (subject to satisfactory progress) which has provided a level of security and sustainability, and the ability to plan more than twelve months in advance. For some organisations improved capacity has taken the form of additional staff, for others it has been improved systems, back office functions or training which have freed up time for existing staff including frontline workers. The following comments provide an insight into the role the funding played in enhancing organisational capacity.

“Funding of core services has provided the backbone for all our services. It has taken away a lot of the things frontline workers would have had to do, like admin and monitoring and reporting. This has allowed them to focus on the work they are meant to be doing”. (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has enabled us to build capacity and develop knowledge and skills through training for the volunteers” (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has offered us some security with the portion of resource that is allocated to the core. This has allowed us to look at how we plan over extended periods of time and how we can be more sustainable as an organisation”. (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has enabled core service staff to focus on delivering outcomes, rather than attempting to source additional funds for the service”. (Third sector organisation).

CYPFEI funding has been critical in enabling us to employ two expert staff members who have been vital to enhancing our ability to deliver our core aims more effectively”. (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has helped with our capacity to deliver according to need rather than project funding”. (Third sector organisation).

“It has helped consolidate our early years and parenting learning into a good strong core of work with solid foundations that we have expanded and developed on. Our early years work was limited before this fund”. (Third sector organisation).

“We are delivering our work at a much deeper level now with our college qualifications (SCQF5/6/7) and the ACEs toolkit, giving parents a much more holistic experience”. (Third sector organisation).

“By providing core funding, the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund has allowed [organisation] to track and respond to emerging trends and issues in youthwork”. (Third sector organisation).

“The CYPFEI & ALEC Fund has allowed us to run small pilot projects with communities that we wouldn't otherwise be able to secure funding for because what we bring in as an organisation. These projects allow us to support communities to pilot their ideas that often turn into larger projects or projects that self-sustain. This is a very important aspect of our work as an organisation as it means we are able to stay responsive to the diversity of different groups throughout Scotland and also bring the learning of these groups together for sustainable peer networks”. (Third sector organisation).

“The flexible core funding helps us sustain our work to ensure we meet the needs of the children and families we support”. (Third sector organisation).

“Flexible funding allows us to be both proactive and reactive according to the needs and changing context of the families we support”. (Third sector organisation).

The organisational capacity created by the Fund was also recognised by Policy Officers. For example, one commented:

“The Fund has been well received from organisations and support for infrastructure means that organisations can focus on work to improve outcomes rather than directing attention/time to securing funding”. (Policy Officer).

The funding encouraged third sector organisations to reflect on their aims and objectives, strengths and weakness, and priorities. For example one organisation stated that funding provided the ability and capacity to look at its infrastructure alongside delivery and this has enabled the organisation to improve its efficiency and undertake more development work. Another organisation reported the Fund’s monitoring and evaluation processes helped bring its team together and think deeply about its purpose. Other relevant comments included:

“The Fund has contributed to the sustainability of the core function at an organisational level. This in turn helps us to build on what works, develop planning, monitoring and evaluation skills which in turn gives us the evidence of impact needed to source funding to sustain/develop the important early intervention work”. (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has been very good because it has forced our charity to examine its strengths and weaknesses in terms of strategy, delivery and evaluation. It has shone a light on the gaps in our capacity to deliver, it has shown us where we need to shore up our knowledge and skills” (Third sector organisation).

The funded organisations’ survey recorded an increase in organisational capacity over the period 2016 to 2019, although the change over time was relatively small from 6.9 to 7.2 out of 10. The fact that organisations rated their capacity at 7.2 out of 10 illustrates the challenges they face and, we suggest, the continued need for support in this area. One organisation, for example, stated that the ongoing rise in referrals from children and young people under 25 had been a challenge which it addressed by prioritising under 18s. Similarly, another funded organisation had to limit the amount of support available to those in greatest need and signpost other individuals with wider needs to other organisations to manage its increasingly stretched service. Capacity remains a cause for concern for funded organisations - a challenging financial environment, limited resources, high volume of work, increase in demand and inflationary costs were cited as factors affecting capacity, and this is illustrated in the following comment: 

“The provision of core funding has allowed our organisation to maintain a stable base from which to grow. As part of that growth, we have increased our skills within the organisation. Capacity remains a challenge given the volume of work, increasing policy and practice initiatives, limited resources and challenging financial environment”. (Third sector organisation).

Corra Foundation’s annual report 2018/19 highlighted staff retention and recruitment, and capacity as the key challenges facing third sector organisations. The report stated, “a significant number of funded organisations had reported issues with staff retention or recruitment, capacity and the challenges of working with other partners and the knock-on impact these had on their work”. Examples were given. 

Skills and knowledge 

Very much linked to the above, funded organisations also reported the benefits of CYPFEI & ALEC funding on the skills and knowledge available in their organisations. The funding enabled many funded organisations to recruit staff with the additional skills and knowledge they sought; funding has also had an important role in retaining key staff. Several organisations noted that enhancing skills and knowledge helped improve service delivery.

“The Fund has enabled us to recruit and support the staff with the skills and knowledge needed”. (Third sector organisation). 

“It allowed us to keep training professionals to expand their expertise to better support the families they work with”. (Third sector organisation).

“It has encouraged us to develop our knowledge of UNCRC, the work we did on GIRFEC led us down avenues we didn't anticipate, our perinatal mental health services have enabled us to develop creche facilities which meet the needs of this particular client group and we have developed specialist knowledge in this regard”. (Third sector organisation).

“The Fund has allowed us to gather more knowledge from the people we work with to build our knowledge and skill to work with and understand the needs of young carers, young carers services in the current financial and political landscape”. (Third sector organisation).

It was noteworthy that benefits in terms of skills and knowledge were also attributed to Corra Foundation’s Support and Engagement programme as well as the funding. For example, one organisation stated: “because Corra do training sessions for free we’re able to upskill our staff who are able to attend these”. Other consultees highlighted the benefits of Corra Foundation’s annual conference and seminars on their sustainability.

“Corra’s annual conference has been extremely helpful - there are always other third sector organisations there who are working in similar areas to ours. What really helped us was one of their seminar sessions on the ‘Lasting Difference’ toolkit. We started to use the toolkit within the organisation and have asked Corra to support us with this”. (Third sector organisation). 

“Corra, in collaboration with Scottish Government, have provided excellent training and networking opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills and without the Fund providing core funding we would not have the capacity to achieve anything near our core aims”. (Third sector organisation).

“It has helped with the capacity (by funding core posts) and skills through the programme of learning and networking workshops and conferences”. (Third sector organisation).

“The support we have received has helped us increase both skills and capacity. The funding obviously enables us to recruit and retain skilled staff and the additional support (in terms of conferences, workshops, and ongoing advice from officials) is also very helpful”. (Third sector organisation).

“The training and networking available through the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund has most definitely increased the knowledge and skills within our team”. (Third sector organisation).

“The extra support and learning opportunities support our skills, knowledge and capacity. This is more around being able to network and learn from others, keep up to date and seek additional support if needed. The Fund itself is vital as these knowledge and skills would potentially be lost without core funding to sustain and retain skilled staff members”. (Third sector organisation).

“The grant has been vital to supporting our capacity to deliver our core aims and support from Corra and Education Scotland has been useful in ensuring we have all of the relevant knowledge and connections to further delivery of our core aims”. (Third sector organisation).

“Through network meetings learning from others, the workshops and experiential learning (positive and learning from mistakes) and continuous professional development we have developed what now is a good skills and knowledge set and increased our capacity to deliver through re-thinking our business model and grown the business itself”. (Third sector organisation).

Overall, funded organisations highly rated the knowledge and skills available in their organisations with average scores of 8.9 and 8.6 out of 10 respectively. The ratings were very similar to the 2016 levels suggesting the Fund helped maintain and refresh skills and knowledge.

On a scale of one to ten, please rate… 2019 rating 2016 rating Change 2016 to 2019
The knowledge available in your organisation to deliver your core aims 8.9 8.8 +0.1
Skills available in your organisation to deliver your core aims 8.6 8.5 +0.1
Organisation’s capacity to deliver core aims 7.2 6.9 +0.3
Overall  8.2 8.1 +0.1



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