Building Blocks – developing second-tier support

Key findings

Research by Alison Harker and Steven Burkeman examining the state of second-tier and infrastructure support to frontline community and voluntary groups, including recommendations on how they can enhance their work.

Research by Alison Harker and Steven Burkeman examining the state of second-tier and infrastructure support to frontline community and voluntary groups, including recommendations on how they can enhance their work.


Second-tier organisations (STOs) are operating in a very difficult environment with pressures on them from all sides, while attempting to manage high expectations and heavy demands. Many, including councils for voluntary service (CVSs), face difficult issues of quality, credibility, conflict of interest and overwork, and a number of CVSs seem to have lost their sense of purpose and focus, according to our Building Blocks report.

Among their recommendations, the authors state that over time, funding should increasingly be directed to frontline groups. They will then be in a stronger position to purchase the help they need, from whichever source can best provide it.

In March 2007 we held an Open Space event to explore the findings and recommendations which came out of our research, Building Blocks, which looked at the infrastructure support available to frontline community and voluntary groups. The report Building Blocks Open Space Report

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Building Blocks – developing second-tier support

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