Press release

Masterclasses to help civil society organisations win government contracts

New workshops will help charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises to win and deliver public service contracts.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


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The first workshops to help charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises (VCSEs) capitalise on opportunities to work for government are now open for registration.

Developed by the government with partners in the private and voluntary sectors, the masterclasses will use case studies, practical tools and the direct experiences of experts to guide organisations through what is required to win and deliver public service contracts.

They will aim to improve key skills across a range of areas, including:

  • writing winning bids
  • adjusting to changes in the tender process
  • developing consortia
  • financial skills, such as how to profile and manage risks

These masterclasses follow other recent initiatives to help public sector commissioners acknowledge how civil society organisations can bring huge value to shaping and delivering future services. These include the Commissioning Academy to train public service commissioners, and the Public Services (Social Value) Act to ensure social value in considered in public service delivery.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

The voluntary sector has a vital role to play in public service delivery. Their knowledge of those who depend on public services and their ability to inspire trust and give a voice to people who need it most, means we must involve them more actively.

This is still an early stage of a challenging journey and change will not happen overnight, but the masterclasses are the latest in a series of initiatives which we hope will open more opportunities for charities and social enterprises than ever before. I am particularly grateful to the private sector organisations that have given their time and expertise for free to develop and deliver these masterclasses.

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), said;

Many charities are adept at running high quality, professional public services with care and expertise. They are keen to ensure that their potential to contribute more to public services is realised. But many still find the commissioning process in particular to be challenging. This is a very welcome move and will be of benefit to charities. It complements our work to ensure commissioners also understand the specific needs of charities. We look forward to working with our partners to deliver this programme.

The first events will be held in London and Manchester with further classes taking place regionally from March 2013, full details of which will be announced shortly. Further information and registration instructions are available here

Notes to editors

  1. Designed and delivered by a cross-sector partnership (ACEVO, AVANTA, Capita, Ingeus, NAVCA, NCVO, Serco and Social Enterprise UK), these masterclasses are the first in a national programme funded by Office for Civil Society, Cabinet Office with pro-bono support from our private sector partners.
  2. The Commissioning Academy is designed to support capable and confident senior public-sector staff to commission in a way that is sensitive to the needs of civil society. It is open to all public sector commissioning organisations, including central government departments, local authorities, health bodies and judicial services, the Commissioning Academy will help senior commissioners learn from the example of the most successful and innovative commissioning groups. The Commissioning Academy is now open to applications – please visit: for more information.
  3. the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force on 31 January 2013. It was introduced as a Private Members Bill by Chris White MP in 2010 and received Royal Assent on 8 March 2012. Cabinet Office has produced guidance on the Act for procurers and commissioners.
  4. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is the umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in England. NCVO champions and strengthens the voluntary sector, with over 10,000 members from the largest charities to the smallest community organisations.
Published 22 February 2013