Volunteering at the heart of the new NCVO

Volunteering in our DNA

The launch of NCVO’s new strategy this week marks an important milestone in the merger between NCVO and Volunteering England. It demonstrates just how far volunteering has been imprinted into the DNA of NCVO over the past 15 months and just how central it is for the future of the new organisation.

Of course it is still early days, and the long-term success of the merger will be rightly judged on the service we provide to volunteer-involving organisations and Volunteer Centres and, ultimately, on the difference we make to volunteering in England. But so far so good.

Integration and specialisation

There are five aims in the new strategy and volunteering runs through all of them. This is at it should be: volunteering is a central ingredient of civil society.

Four of the aims have a core thread of volunteering and social action:

  • to champion volunteering and the voluntary sector
  • to strengthen voluntary organisations
  • to connect people and organisations
  • to ensure that NCVO itself is more sustainable and socially responsible.

The fifth aim (or Aim 3 in the strategy) is solely devoted to growing and enhancing volunteering ‘wherever it takes place’. Again this is as it should be, with volunteering both integrated across all core NCVO functions and having a clear focal point of its own.

Making a bigger difference together

Now the hard work starts; to turn these fine words and ambitions into reality. We are under no illusions about the scale of the task we have set ourselves, with many volunteer-involving organisations and infrastructure bodies continuing to struggle for funds and recognition. But the coming together of NCVO and Volunteering England, with our hugely increased reach and influence, gives us a better chance than ever of success. We really can, as the title of the strategy says, make a bigger difference together. And this includes working more closely and smartly with you our members and supporters.

Strengthening the volunteering movement

There is much in the strategy to reflect upon, and it would be great to hear your thoughts and ideas about how we can best work together to make things happen. But just to point to three key aspirations:

  • finding better ways to support and champion Volunteer Centres which play such a pivotal role in establishing a climate locally in which volunteering can flourish
  • working with other networks such as the Association of Volunteer Managers, the Volunteer Management Movement and NAVSM to help raise the profile, status and impact of volunteer management ‘wherever it takes place’ and whoever undertakes it
  • finding new and creative ways of taking the strengths of the more formal volunteering sector and the strengths of the newly emerging world of social action, and blending them together using online and offline strategies to create an even more vibrant and impactful volunteering movement.

This strategy was co-designed with you (I was delighted to learn that the biggest response to our consultation exercise was on the volunteering questions) and will be delivered in partnership with you.

Together we can all make a bigger difference.

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Justin was executive director of volunteering and development at NCVO and chief executive of Volunteering England. He is now a senior research fellow at City University Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

10 Responses to Volunteering at the heart of the new NCVO

  1. Chris Parker says:

    Great to hear volunteering will be at the heart of NCVO’s new strategy. I’m about to dive into the full document, and I’m hoping to see an intention to build on areas of innovation that is present in many Volunteer Centres and I’m also hoping to see how data captured by volunteer centres and other VIO’s will be used to shape the future of volunteering in the UK.

    • Jamie Ward-Smith says:

      Good point Chris. Whilst we’re not actually mentioned in NCVO’s strategy, Do-it will be keen to share the huge amount of data that we collect with VCs on the 200k plus volunteers that get involved through our website every month. Such data can help us as a sector get a much better understanding of what motivates people, what skills they have to offer and what they want to gain, so we can we develop the volunteering market to ensure we offer the right type of opportunities that also meet the needs of communities.

      Looking forward to getting involved!

      • Justin Davis Smith says:

        Thanks Jamie. Looking forward, as we say in our strategy, to finding new and better ways of combining the strength of face-to-face interventions with the strength of online platforms like Do-it to make volunteering even more impactful.

    • Justin Davis Smith says:

      Absolutely Chris, building on the innovation which is endemic in the volunteering and Volunteer Centre movement will be crucial to the success of our strategy and the future of volunteering. Our Stronger Communities Project showed just what a difference volunteering and Volunteer Centres can make in helping people into work, and our Nesta-funded projects are showcasing some of the most innovative practice within the Volunteer Centre network. Making better and more creative use of the data we all generate is a key priority for us over the coming year.

  2. Hello,

    I am a student at St.Patricks International College who is undertaking the course of HND Health and Social Care. I am very much interested in obtaining a work experience placement in the fild of a social worker or care assistant.

    • Hello Edmilia,
      I forwarded your request to Kristen Stephenson, our Volunteer Management and Good Practice Manager, who has been in touch. Please let us know if there’s any other way we can help.


  3. Delighted to see volunteering up front and centre in the new NCVO strategy. At Join In we see a range of new opportunities to further embed volunteering across society – and not just those fuelled by London 2012 – so we look forward to playing our part in this.

    And as a member of NNVIA (the National Network of Volunteer-Involving Agencies, co-ordinated by CSV) I’m sure there are lots of VMs in that network who would welcome the opportunity for some deeper, collaborative work on the status of Volunteer Management, building on NNVIA’s submission to this strategy last year. Perhaps some joint-dialogue could be scheduled at the next sensible point?

    • Justin Davis Smith says:

      Thanks Gethyn, hugely looking forward to working with you and colleagues at Join In to deliver a lasting legacy for sports volunteering. On our plans for supporting volunteer managers we have already held a very useful roundtable with key umbrella agencies, including the Association of Volunteer Managers and NNVIA, and will be consulting more widely in the coming months.

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