Evaluation of Third Sector Interface network model and Voluntary Action Scotland: executive summary

Executive summary of the evaluation of Scotland’s Third Sector Interface (TSI) network model and Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS).


In March 2008, Scottish Ministers reviewed the funding of the 120 separate organisations delivering support for volunteering, social enterprise and Third Sector organisations at a local level, resulting in the creation of 32 single funding agreements to support a network model of integrated service delivery and representation - the Third Sector Interfaces. The aim was to provide a single point of access for support and advice for the Third Sector within each Local Authority area and to create strong coherent and cohesive representation of the sector to better align it with the Community Planning Partnerships and the Single Outcome Agreements.

Voluntary Action Scotland was established in 2009 and is the intermediary body established to represent the 32 Third Sector Interfaces. Its role is to develop, support and represent the Third Sector Interface network through promoting the positive impact that the Third Sector Interfaces have at the local level; encouraging good practice; raising the profile of the Third Sector Interfaces at national level; and facilitating peer support to the TSI network.

Structures and core purpose

Whilst the original intention in developing the TSI network model was to create uniformity of Third Sector support across the country, Scottish Government did not prescribe what form the local interfaces should take, recognising the need for local variation to dictate form. In practice, the TSIs are very different in structure, scale and in the range of services they deliver. 22 TSIs currently operate as single entities and 10 operate through partnerships.

The intention was to ensure that there was some equality in access to services available to the Third Sector across Scotland and a set of common values, approaches and services were developed to underpin the work of every TSI - these common values are leadership, collaboration, integrity, diversity, equality and excellence. A Common Services Framework outlined the core services that all Third Sector Interfaces were expected to provide. It incorporates a set of common outcomes which in turn drive the work plans for each TSI. These are:

  • more people have increased opportunity and enthusiasm to volunteer;
  • volunteer involving organisations are better able to recruit, manage and retain volunteers;
  • social enterprise develops and grows;
  • Third Sector organisations are run well and deliver quality services;
  • different organisations and sectors are more connected and understand each other better;
  • Third Sector organisations feel better able to influence and contribute to public policy; and
  • Third Sector Interfaces are well run and quality driven organisations.

The Scottish Government also specified in its grant offer letter to TSIs that TSIs were expected to be responsive to the diversity of the community and to be well managed, governed and effective organisations.


The Scottish Government provides the TSI network model with core grant funding amounting to £8.154 million in 2015/16, and amounting to £44 million since 1 April 2011. Each TSI receives a share of the total funding based on the historic level of funding paid to Council for Voluntary Services ( CVS), Volunteer Centre and social enterprise functions in each area. On average the Scottish Government grant is in the region of £200,000-£250,000, with a range from £182,400 to £683,200.

It is the responsibility of each TSI to distribute funds for the delivery of each of the four functions based on need in the area.


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