Evolve – a capacity building project

Written by Orlaith McGuinness, Community Development Project Manager

ELBA is delighted to share the Evolve Annual Report, which showcases the impact of the project in 2021. The full report can be read here.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all involved in Evolve over the past 16 months. A special mention goes to volunteers at Linklaters, Societe Generale and UBS, who continue to give their time and skills to build the capacity of local community organisations. With their support, ELBA is enabled to engage with and support organisations in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Haringey, all of whom work tirelessly to deliver key employment, enrichment and essential services to support and empower residents of east London.

For an overview of the Evolve project, as well as a snapshot of some key achievements from the past year, please read on:


Programme overview
Evolve is a collaborative partnership between Linklaters, UBS, Societe Generale and the Societe Generale UK Foundation, delivered by ELBA. It aims to build the capacity of community organisations across Hackney, particularly in response to the effects of COVID-19. The ultimate aim is to help ensure the sustainability of Hackney’s third sector and Hackney residents. While the key focus is on Hackney organisations, Evolve also supports community organisations in Tower Hamlets and Haringey. The project has been designed to respond to the changing needs of local community organisations, drawing on the skills and expertise of employee volunteers to address pressing community challenges. 

Evolve activities:
In 2021, Evolve consisted of seven different activity types: 

  1. Leaders in Partnership: Pairing community leaders with senior volunteers for a 10-month, coaching-style partnership.
  2. Learning from Leaders sessions: Bringing together corporate and community leaders to explore key leadership themes and share learning, challenges and tools.
  3. Evolve BoardBuilders: Training and matching events, designed to strengthen the governance of Hackney-based community organisations by placing employee volunteers as trustees of the organisations.
  4. Reflection & Planning workshops: Small teams of volunteers supporting community organisations to reflect, problem solve and plan.
  5. Funding Application Reviews: Volunteers providing feedback to community organisations to help improve their funding applications.
  6. Digital Inclusion – Website Reviews: Volunteers assess and review community partner websites, and provide feedback on how to improve and optimise them.
  7. Strategic Solutions workshops: Small team of volunteers supporting community organisations to overcome specific strategic issues related to Business Planning, Financial Planning, Marketing and Communications, IT and HR

For more detail on the impact of each activity, as well as plans for development in 2022, please see the full Evolve Annual Report 2021.

Community needs are not static. With this in mind, Evolve has been designed to respond to the ever-evolving needs of local community organisations. In late 2021, as COVID priorities continued to develop, we launched a consultation to learn more about the support-needs of community organisations. In line with findings, we have altered our 2022 programme to include more practical, hands-on support and training across some key areas. As part of this, we launched  ‘Compass’ a programme designed to help community organisations navigate business challenges through three months of high impact, intensive-volunteer support. To learn more about the impact of Compass 2022, click here. Throughout this year, we look forward to sharing more key achievements from Year 2 of Evolve.

If you have any questions, would like to partake in an Evolve activity, or discuss a particular area of need, please get in touch with Orlaith McGuinness, ELBA Community Development Project Manager: orlaith.mcguinness@elba-1.org.uk

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