How we used feedback on the difference we make

Last year we asked our members to tell us how they thought we were doing and which of our areas of focus were most important to their organisation.

In line with the Code of Good Impact Practice, we openly and honestly shared the results, and we’re also keen to change and act on what we found. Conducting this survey wasn’t just an empty exercise for us. We really did consider all of the feedback, share it across the organisation and think about what we could do differently.

What we did with the results

The results were presented by a director at NCVO’s trustee board meeting and then to all NCVO staff through departmental meetings. Staff gave their suggestions for improvement to our services, based on the presentation, and these went to our management team away-day for further exploration and to feed into the planning cycle for 2016/17.

We’re also using the specific information about our members’ needs to help us to build our new theory of change at NCVO – a picture of what difference we want to make and what we will deliver to make that change. This work will take place between May and September 2016.

What has changed since?

I won’t pretend that a cascade of major changes has already happened, particularly as the results have informed our planning for 2016/17 so the new work is still to come, but small things have started to change as a result. New ideas have come forward and prioritisation given to areas that were rated as most important by our members.

1. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘leadership and governance’

What the survey told us

‘Sustainability’ and ‘leadership and governance’ were rated as the most important areas to our members completing the survey. They also told us that they wanted to see more practical advice and information.

What we’ve done since

  • Created a new set of ‘board basics’ resources, free for our members. These will be launched soon as a suite of guidance, templates and tools for your board.
  • Developed new training courses on fundraising responsibilities for trustees, financial intelligence for trustees, bid writing and turning your ideas into income through trading.
  • Recruited a new governance specialist to continue and expand our support in that area.
  • Led a cross party review looking at the regulation of fundraising
  • Fed into new guidance for trustees on the appropriate oversight of fundraising
  • Called on government repeatedly alongside partners to ensure that charitable business rates relief was protected, which the government recently confirmed.
  • Successfully campaigned with members and partners against a potential diversion of funds from the Big Lottery Fund.

2. ‘Managing volunteers’ and ‘communicating the value of volunteers’

What the survey told us

‘Managing volunteers’ and ‘communicating the value of volunteers’ were also rated as important.

What we’ve done since

  • Planned an expanded volunteers’ week celebration for 2016.
  • Launched a new training programme around volunteer management.
  • Lobbied for the Community Life Survey to continue in its current format, as the key piece of information around rates of volunteering in England and Wales. This helps countless organisations to report on and compare rates of volunteering.

3. ‘Connecting with bodies in other sectors’

What the survey told us

We were found to be of less help in ‘connecting with bodies in other sectors’, than ‘connecting with bodies within the voluntary sector’.

What we’ve done since

  • Expanded our free commercial masterclass programme, delivering sessions across the country and inviting private sector organisations and commissioners to present to and network with voluntary sector organisations looking to bid for contracts in partnership.
  • Held a workshop at the NCVO funding conference on successful public partnerships
  • Increased the resource into and reach of our Step on Board programme to connect business people with our members looking for trustees.

4. ‘Listen to and understand the views of our members’

What the survey told us

68% of respondents felt we ‘listen to and understand the views of our members’ and 62% felt we ‘tailored our resources to members’ needs’. We need to increase these percentages and make sure we are really listening and responding to our members.

What we’ve done since

  • Next month we’re launching a section on NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit with a range of practical resources. Members will be asked to vote on which topics they want resources on next and we will respond with the new free resource.
  • We’ve done research into the needs of our members in terms of legal information so that we can update all of our guidance on legal information based on your priorities.
  • We are repeating this survey to find out what difference NCVO makes and what our members need year on year. This will also enable us to see whether responses change with our actions and know whether we’re doing the right things.

5. Clearer communication

What the survey told us

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 do and achieve.

What we think we could do

  • We’re considering resurrecting our impact report in an online form.
  • We’re planning to build in some ‘back to basics’ information in our member communications about who we are and what we do. We already do this for new members, but are considering expanding the information as a reminder to our old friends as well.

The next survey

Rather than reel off a list of all NCVO’s work, I’ve tried to pull out a few small things which show you we take this feedback seriously.

We’ve revised this year’s survey a little, to make it shorter and clear up any confusing questions. But we’ve also kept it similar enough that we can compare responses year on year and see whether our efforts are making a difference.

We will be sending the survey by email to the NCVO member contact at a sample* of members today (21 April). We’d love to hear from you, on how you think NCVO is doing and what you need from us.


*It is important to us that our research is robust. The survey will be anonymous as this allows us to give the same weight to each organisation’s response. We will also be sending the survey to a sample of members.


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Megan Griffith Gray, Director of Strategy and Transformation Megan is director of strategy and transformation at NCVO and is responsible for the organisation’s strategy, planning and reporting. She also leads the digital, marketing and technology functions.

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