Earlier this year we asked our members to tell us how we’re doing, how the voluntary sector and volunteering is changing and what contribution NCVO is making to that change.
In line with the Code of Good Impact Practice, we’re openly and honestly sharing the survey results.
Here’s what our members told us, warts and all.
During a time of change NCVO is helpful, but could still do more
The message is that our members feel the sector is changing, that NCVO is generally doing well in supporting them through that change, but that we still need to do more. 79% of responding organisations agreed (strongly or somewhat) that ‘NCVO’s influence had been helpful to the sector during a time of change’. But almost the same proportion (76%) also agreed that ‘NCVO needs to do more to help organisations respond to changes in the sector’.
Generally, there was real approval for NCVO’s strategy at this time; nearly three-quarters of organisations responding to the survey said we were heading in the right direction.
However, around a fifth of organisations (mostly smaller organisations) said they didn’t know whether or not we were heading in the right direction. This may indicate that we’re not doing enough to inform them about what we’re doing and achieving. Alternatively, it may be that they don’t think NCVO’s strategy and direction matters to them.
What are people’s needs and where are we helping?
We asked people to rate how important a number of key areas (that we aim to help them with) are to their organisation.
‘Sustainability’ and ‘leadership and governance’ came up as the most important areas. ‘Managing volunteers’ and ‘communicating the value of volunteers’ were also rated as important. ‘Campaigning and influencing’ was highlighted as the least important, or least relevant, issue.
We then asked how much help NCVO has been to them in each area. ‘Leadership and governance’ attracted the highest reports of NCVO helpfulness, but that was accompanied by almost a third of organisations saying they hadn’t accessed any help from us here. There was a similar picture for ‘communicating the value of your organisation’ which attracted the second highest reports of NCVO helpfulness.
We were found to be of least help in ‘connecting with bodies in other sectors’, although respondents rated it almost equally important to them to connect with others within and outside of the voluntary sector. We acknowledge that this is a relatively new area of focus for NCVO.
More concerning to us, ‘sustainability’ received relatively low ratings of helpfulness, but is the top area of importance to organisations.
Leading or responding?
We gathered members’ perceptions of key elements of NCVO’s role and our way of working. There was broad agreement that we ‘champion the voluntary sector’, with 90% of respondents feeling we do this a lot or somewhat. The proportion feeling that NCVO ‘listens to and understands the views of member organisations’ was lower (68%).
Respondents said that we ‘provide leadership in the voluntary sector’ (74%). A slightly lower, but still significant, proportion felt that NCVO ‘tailors its support to its members’ needs’ (62%).
A request for practical advice and support
A clear ranking emerged when we asked responding members which types of support they would like to see more of from NCVO. ‘Practical advice and information’ was way out in front, selected by more than two-thirds of members (69%). Next came ‘advice on specific issues or topics’ (49%) and ‘policy summaries’ (38%).
Whose views are these?
We sent the survey to a random sample of 5000 people from NCVO member organisations and gathered 219 responses. The majority of respondents were from small organisations (over 50% had less than £30,000 income), which roughly reflects the composition both of NCVO membership and of the sector more broadly.
We put a lot of work into designing the survey to ensure it was robust. The questions were developed through a systematic process of mapping from our strategy. There were no leading questions and just as much opportunity to say NCVO is ‘good’ as ‘not good’, in an anonymous way.
We feel the response rate is acceptable to give us a reasonable picture of member views, although we’d really like to increase it in future. We’ll be repeating the survey next year and improving on it even more.
What will NCVO do with these results?
The results have been shared with all NCVO staff members, who have given suggestions for improvement. These have gone to our management team away-day for further exploration and will be fed into our planning cycle for 2016/17, which is starting now.