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The Voluntary Sector Initiative Process Evaluation
Final Evaluation Report


The Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI) is a five-year $94.6 million initiative aimed at creating a closer working relationship between the federal government and the voluntary sector. The purpose of the initiative is to strengthen the voluntary sector's capacity to engage in policy dialogue and to enhance the relationship between the sector and the federal government, in order to better serve Canadians. To this end, the Initiative was also designed to strengthen the capacity of the sector in areas of knowledge, human resources financial support policy and public administration and also to improve the regulatory and legal framework under which the sector operates.

Initially the VSI was coordinated through the Privy Council Office. In October 2002, at the end of Phase I of the initiative, management responsibility for the coordination of the VSI was transferred to Canadian Heritage. It was at that point that evaluation work was undertaken to examine certain operational delivery and process issues, in particular how the VSI worked and any areas in need of further improvement. The evaluation was conducted in order (a) to comply with Treasury Board guidelines ensuring Parliament is adequately informed about the results achieved from the expenditure of public funds; and (b) to provide an important base on which to build a more in-depth impact evaluation analysis described below.

In 2003 as the evaluation progressed at Canadian Heritage and the final report was nearing completion the program once again moved from one department to another. As a result of the December 2003 realignment of departments the VSI functions were transferred to the newly created Social Development Canada (SDC). The program arrived at SDC with a fully completed Process Evaluation of the Voluntary Sector Initiative which needed to be approved for publication.

The VSI is very much a unique initiative; it is essentially a co-managed experiment at building a working relationship in the social development field between the federal government and the voluntary sector. Essentially the process evaluation undertaken focuses on exploring the relationship and governance structures emerging between the federal government and the voluntary sector and how these have been improved by the processes associated with the implementation and delivery of the VSI.

To supplement the current evaluation findings, Social Development Canada is about to commence a more in-depth evaluation of the Voluntary Sector Initiative's longer-term impact effects. Specifically the following key areas will be the focus of future work:

  • What has been the value-added to the federal government operations and activities as a result of the VSI?
  • Similarly what has been the value-added from the Sector's perspective? and
  • What have been the benefits for social development processes across Canadian society as a whole?

In addition to the above, the other standard evaluation requirements set out in the Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation will also be addressed.

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Last Updated: 2019-09-17