NCVO’s new strategy

What will the voluntary sector look like in five years’ time? Will volunteering still be part of society’s DNA? Will voluntary organisations still be needed, never mind trusted? We seem to be awash with predictions these days (though sadly fewer forecasts), many of them at the gloomy end of the spectrum. Yes, the economy is improving, but for many of us the spectre of the 2008 crash and its aftermath still looms large.

The voluntary sector will, without any shadow of a doubt, be alive and well in 2019. On that, I am a militant optimist. But common to much of the gloom is a sense that we’re not in charge of our own future: that we’re too small, or too fragmented, or too amateur.

I beg to differ. And in my defence I call Abraham Lincoln, who is reputed to have said that “The best way to predict your future is to create it”.

Today NCVO is launching its own strategy to help create the future of volunteering and the voluntary sector in this country. It seems like an age ago that we merged with Volunteering England – and yes, it was a merger – and in the time since then we’ve been busy talking to members and pretty much anyone with an interest in volunteering and the voluntary sector about what future they want to create.

Today’s strategy is our best shot: please do have a look, even if it’s just this very short infographic version or the slides below.

In five years’ time, those beginning to volunteer or work in voluntary organisations may have been born after the Millennium (if you want to feel old, the iPod first appeared in 2001). So we hope we’ve developed a strategy that recognises the world we’re in is changing: changing attitudes to helping others and getting involved, an ageing population, rapid uptake of new technologies, increasing global connections, a desire for more local solutions. Many are arguing that the role of governments, and the voluntary sector, are also changing, and with such changes come new expectations and ways of working, not least of which is the need to be more transparent and accountable.

One of the most important changes we think we’ve seen is the determination of more people and organisations to make a difference in what they do. We want everyone, wherever they volunteer or whatever voluntary organisation they work with, to be able to make a difference. People will increasingly want to do good in all that they do, whatever sector they work in. And we believe strongly that we are more likely to achieve our potential to make a difference if we act together, whether as individuals or a sector. More than ever, success in the future will be about networks of organisations and individuals.

So, our strategy is based on values including collaboration and creativity. It revises and refreshes the things that we hope you already know us for: championing voluntary organisations and volunteering; growing the role and involvement of volunteering across work and society; and strengthening organisations so that they can achieve their full potential.

Our new strategy also recognises that members are our greatest asset: and that we can’t achieve our aims without putting you front and central. So, we want to convene and connect more than we’ve ever done, sharing learning and putting you in touch with the knowledge and resources you need to be successful. We know we too need to change: so we’ll continue down the path of reducing our environmental impact. We’ll also engage volunteers much more in our day to day work. I hope we can become much more like a ‘networked nonprofit‘. And, finally, we know that strategic plans aren’t fashionable any more – it’s all about being lean and agile these days – so we know that we’ll continue to change with the sector. We hope our members will learn from our journey.

The Office for National Statistics reckons that the fastest growing age group in the UK currently are centenarians. NCVO will hopefully receive its own Telegram from the Queen in 2019. We believe that this strategy will mean that we celebrate that important birthday in the knowledge that volunteering and the voluntary sector are trusted, louder, stronger and sustainable. That together we are making the biggest difference that we can.

Responses on twitter to our new strategy

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Karl Wilding Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering, leads NCVO's volunteering, policy, research and campaigning work in the UK and internationally. With lead responsibility for shaping the external environment for the voluntary sector, he blogs about the big issues facing voluntary organisations.

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