Group of people sat in room for event

Empowering organisations through co-production & partnership working

Published: 11/07/24 | Categories: Information & support,Volunteering, Author: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith, Volunteer Engagement & Communications Officer at WCVA shares reflections from our gofod3 session on Volunteering Wales Strategic Grants.

On 5 June 2024, I had the privilege of hosting two impactful sessions at gofod3, the annual event that brings together the voluntary sector from across Wales.

These sessions were part of the Volunteering Wales Strategic Grant (VWSG) scheme, and they aimed to empower organisations that engage with volunteers by focusing on co-production and partnership working.


Before diving into the insights, let’s clarify what a strategic grant is. Unlike your typical funding grant, the VWSG doesn’t fund individual projects or physical structures. Instead, it supports organisations in researching, exploring, and experimenting with new ideas and ways of working.

It’s about finding new or enhanced approaches that unlock long-term potential on a strategic level and embed best practices in volunteering. It’s also about sharing learning with other volunteering-involving organisations in Wales so we can all benefit from more strategic thinking on volunteering.


In the co-production session, we heard from St Giles Trust, Foothold Cymru and Innovate Trust. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Building relationships: Co-production involves building strong relationships and raising confidence among participants. When people feel assured that their voices will be heard, they actively engage.
  • Adaptability: Flexibility is crucial. We need to adapt engagement methods to suit individual needs. Providing initial training and being open to different approaches ensures success.
  • Meaningful feedback: Co-production leads to more meaningful feedback and resources. By involving participants directly, we create better support systems.
  • Learning from people: Organisations benefit greatly from learning directly from the people they serve. This informs policy changes and improves our ways of working.
  • Sustaining engagement: While sustaining engagement over time can be challenging, it ultimately leads to meaningful outcomes.


The partnership working session featured Snowdonia Society, Sported Ltd and RCTCAN. Here’s what we learned:

  • Enhancing organisational strength: Partnerships enhance organisations’ strength by bringing in experts and facilitating knowledge sharing. Together, we achieve more.
  • Influential networks: Creating influential networks is a key benefit. Consistently improving our ways of working ensures positive results.
  • Sharing learning: We use shared learning to improve consistently. Learning from each other’s experiences is invaluable.
  • Challenges: Yes, there are challenges – scheduling meetings can be time-consuming, and clear role expectations are essential. But the rewards outweigh the hurdles.


  • Flexibility: The VWSG stands out because it prioritises flexibility over tick boxes. It encourages innovation and experimentation.
  • Pilot funding opportunities: Pilot funding opportunities would greatly help organisations develop stronger bids. Let’s explore new ideas before committing to full project funding.
  • Recognising investment: Funders need to recognise the investment – both in time and resources – required for co-production and partnership-based projects.


These insights aren’t just for the organisations who came to gofod3. We’re actively sharing this knowledge across Wales. As we prioritise areas like health and social care, education and youth, the environment, sport, arts and Welsh language communities, we’re investing in new ways of working with volunteers.

For additional evaluations, reports, and resources, visit the resources section of the Knowledge Hub, our Third Sector Support Wales learning platform. And if you’d like to join our mailing list, drop me an email at

Let’s continue building a stronger, more collaborative voluntary sector in Wales!


There’s a lot to learn from recipients of the who have been leading pioneering projects that look long-term at volunteering and how we can unlock its potential:

Resources from the VWSG projects: