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SCOPE Project Study - Skills Recognition, Capacity Building, and Professional Development for the Third Sector

SCOPE is a two-year project that started in October 2018 thanks to funding from Erasmus+, the European Commission’s programme for education, training, youth, and sport. Bringing together partners from five EU Member States, it aimed to develop, test, and valorise a set of outputs intended to develop capacity and skills recognition in third sector organisations, especially smaller organisations and those for whom there are barriers to accessing quality training. SCOPE addressed these geographical, economic, and accessibility barriers to accessing training by creating a free online programme in the fundamentals of third sector organisation management, and a system for capturing and communicating learning achieved, therefore increasing skills recognition and job mobility. SCOPE project outputs included:

  • SCOPE Modules: We created five eLearning modules on core topics necessary for good third sector management, specifically governance, finance, risk, communications, and fundraising. Each module was adapted and translated by the partners for their national context and designed to address multiple learner needs and styles.
  • SCOPE Platform: Our eLearning partner developed an interactive and accessible platform to house our modules.
  • SCOPE Validation System: Using digital badges, we created a system for recognising the learning that took place through module completion that allowed learners to reflect on and communicate their new skills.
  • SCOPE Project Study: We conducted a two-phase pilot to test the modules, platform and validation system with learners throughout the partner countries, collecting feedback that allowed us to optimise the projects outputs and analysing the impact of our pedagogical approach.

Our project was enriched by our partnership comprising third sector representative organisations from Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, and an Irish third sector eLearning specialist. Each partner brought their unique strengths, insights, and networks to the project.

Pedagogical Approach 

A “learning outcome” approach was adopted as the pedagogical basis for the SCOPE module and platform design. The course was structured and the content was designed to adhere to best practice Universal Design for Learning principles, allowing ease of access to people with varying abilities. The conscientious design and development of a flexible learning environment to accommodate diverse learner needs using a range of solutions provides equity of access to knowledge. This approach is also complementary to our method of learning validation. The badge system is built around self-assessment and reflection on the learning achieved through the programme and so is flexible to varying learning styles and abilities.

Pilot Results

To test the clarity, quality, and impact of the learning content, accessibility of the learning platform, and use of validation system, we piloted SCOPE in two phases with over 200 testers across the five partner countries. Testers provided feedback via exit surveys and focus groups allowing us to identify strengths and weakness in content and design and create a quality final product. A summary of pilot results:

98% of survey respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the QUALITY of the programme content.

95% of survey respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the QUALITY of the learning platform.

77% of respondents reported INCREASED CAPACITY in all 5 areas.

92% of respondents reported INCREASED CONFIDENCE in all 5 areas.

88% of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied in using the system to recognise their skills and knowledge.

1147 badges were issued across all five modules indicating participants were happy to have their learning recognised via a digital badge.

95% of respondents would recommend SCOPE to a friend or colleague.

92% of respondents rated SCOPE overall as very good or good.

What’s next for SCOPE?

The SCOPE resource will be incorporated into the core services of the partners and be widely promoted throughout the wider European third sector as a free and accessible resource for developing and recognising third sector skills. Partners will investigate national, philanthropic, and European funding opportunities that will allow us to further develop this project and its outputs as we believe there is real potential for this to be the first step in an ongoing journey of digitising learning for the third sector and increasing the accessibility and democratisation of learning.

How can you benefit from SCOPE?

The primary target group for SCOPE is staff of small third sector organisations, typically comprising 1 – 5 staff members, who tend to have the most barriers to accessing training and communicating their skills. If you are a member of this target group, SCOPE is an ideal way to get to grips with the fundamentals of third sector organisation management. However, there are multiple other stakeholders who could also benefit from the outputs produced through this project:

  • The wider third sector and its staff, volunteers and trustees: Even for larger organisations, SCOPE can be an invaluable resource for staff training and to promote an overall understanding of the sector, how it works, and the core skills necessary for running an effective organisation.
  • Higher Education Institutes (HEIs): SCOPE can help prepare students who will likely end up in third sector jobs for their careers and help them build the core skills necessary to increase their employability.
  • Third sector networks: There are many networks throughout Europe that unite and support third sector organisations working towards a common goal. SCOPE can be an invaluable addition to the supports offered by such networks.


SCOPE has been a huge learning curve, but a very rewarding experience for all partners. What we have built through this project has already yielded an overwhelmingly positive impact and has enormous potential for future development. As a consortium, we are committed to sharing, promoting, sustaining and exploiting the outputs of this project. Get in touch with us to find out more about how you or your organisation could benefit from SCOPE.


Contact coordinators The Wheel for more information about SCOPE or to be directed to your local SCOPE partner.

Tel: +353 (01) 4548727


Or fill out the contact form on the SCOPE website to be directed to your local SCOPE partner:

Resource Details
Third sector, professional development, capacity building, NGOs
Resursa autors
Skills Recognition, Capacity Building, and Professional Development for the Third Sector PROJECT NUMBER: 2018-1-IE01-KA202-038806 
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