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Building voluntary sector resilience together

Published: 26/08/22 | Categories: Influencing, Author: Siân Eagar

Siân Eagar, WCVA’s Resilience Officer, blogs about our ongoing work to support voluntary organisations with building their resilience

At gofod3 we were pleased to launch a conversation about the resilience model WCVA is developing for the sector in Wales.

Building the resilience of the voluntary sector is at the heart of WCVA’s new strategic plan. Our work in this area has been informed by the experiences of the sector during the challenging times that we have all been living through. We understand that the resilience of voluntary organisations is interconnected with the resilience of individuals and communities and wider sectoral issues. Whilst WCVA’s policy work aims to champion the interests of the sector and address those wider issues, we are also working to give organisations the information and support they need to develop their resilience.


WCVA defines ‘resilience’ as:

the ability of an organisation to plan for, respond to, and adapt to change, enabling it to survive and thrive both now and in the future.

This is a positive concept that is all about flexibility, bouncing forward (rather than back), evolving and developing our goals in light of changing circumstances and needs.

We have explored what makes organisations resilient and have identified some key areas, which we are calling resilience characteristics. We have drawn the characteristics together under high level headings, which enabled us to create our resilience model.


A graphic illustrating WCVA’s model of resilience for voluntary organisations’

This model (available as a PDF) presents the resilience characteristics as segments that operate at different levels of an organisation;

  • Heart of the organisation

This is demonstrated by the Values & Purpose and People

  • Core areas

This reflects the Governance and Management, Sustainable Resources, Relationships, Learning & Improvement that organisations need to thrive

  • Cross-cutting themes

This  comprises Culture & ways of working and Communication, the characteristics that cross all areas of the organisation

These characteristics are all of equal importance and all work together to create a resilient organisation.

We have created this visual representation to help demonstrate the key areas that an organisation needs to work on to build its resilience. We hope that as we continue to develop this model, it will be used by organisations to aid understanding and as a starting point to prompt discussion. WCVA will also be using it as a basis for the ongoing development of our information and support services.


As we were developing our resilience model we created some key questions which helped us identify the areas we should prioritise. If you would like to start a conversation in your organisation about resilience then we think that these questions will also be helpful for you:

  • What drives our organisation?
  • What do we need to operate effectively?
  • Who are we and how do we get things done?
  • Are we doing things well?
  • How do we engage with others and spread awareness of our work?

By working through these questions you will form a better understanding of your organisation, your current strengths and weaknesses and your needs and priorities which is the first step in building resilience.


Voluntary organisations are all different- in terms of needs, resources, operating environment and their current stage of organisational development. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building resilience, but a willingness to learn and a commitment to work on the resilience characteristics will set you in the right direction.


WCVA will be using the resilience model as the basis for future work to support voluntary organisations. Our aim is to create the building blocks that will enable organisations to easily access information and advice relevant to their needs and current level of development. We will be continuing to engage with you to make sure that our work on this topic is practical and valuable.

If you haven’t already done so, start talking about what resilience means for your organisation and let us know. We would like to hear from you by email at seagar@wcva.cymru

Do also sign up for our newsletter and check out our training page for more information on the support that WCVA offer on topics related to the resilience characteristics.