What our members need and what they think of NCVO: Year two

Last year, we asked our members to tell us how we’re doing, what’s important to them and whether NCVO is helping them to make a difference (see my blog post about the results).

This year we repeated the survey to check whether the changes we made as a result had helped and to monitor whether needs are changing and how NCVO is doing.

Here’s what our members told us this time.

NCVO’s influence has been helpful in a time of change and we can still do more

83% of the members we asked still report that their organisation is affected by changes in the voluntary sector and 85% agree (strongly or somewhat) that ‘NCVO’s influence has been helpful to the voluntary sector’ during that change. These results are similar to those of last year.

Our perceived success in ‘championing the voluntary sector’ and providing ‘leadership in the voluntary sector’ came out strongly, with exactly the same ratings as last year (89% and 74% responding positively, respectively.)

However, also similarly to last year, a roughly equal proportion of respondents (83%) to those that thought that NCVO has been helpful, still feel that ‘NCVO needs to do more to help organisations respond to changes in the sector’.

Most believe that NCVO is heading in the right direction (but slightly fewer of you agree than last year)

Generally, there is still approval for NCVO’s strategy, but the response is slightly less positive than last year.

In our analysis of these results, we have discussed two ways to interpret the differences between the 2015 and 2016 responses:

  1. There might have been a change in the last year, and fewer people feel that we’re heading in the right direction this year than last year.
  2. We had more responses to the survey this year, particularly from larger organisations, which might have affected the results.

When we looked into it further we can see that larger organisations were more likely to say we’re heading in the right direction than smaller organisations. So, it’s likely that the increase in larger organisations didn’t negatively affect the results and that there has been a small change.

In particular, even more people this year than last year say they don’t know whether we are heading in the right direction or not. There are suggestions from the qualitative data that the ‘don’t knows’ may be because people find it hard to judge our success rather than because they don’t care. For example, one additional comment was:

I think it is extremely hard to often know what the value of a good and effective infrastructure organisation is and very easy to criticise with a sense that more could be done.

We’re doing a better job of listening and tailoring support (or are we?)

When we asked respondents to rate NCVO on some key questions about our way of working, two areas have notably increased in positive ratings from last year:

  1. Views about whether NCVO ‘listens to and understands the views of member organisations’ have changed from 68% somewhat or strongly agree in 2015, to 76% somewhat or strongly agree in 2016.
  2. Views about whether NCVO ‘tailors support to members’ needs’ have changed from 62% somewhat or strongly agree in 2015, to 69% somewhat or strongly agree in 2016.

It appears that we are perceived as being better at listening to and responding to members than last year. Although, in interpreting the results, we acknowledge the fact that this response sample has more large organisations in than last year’s response. We note the points in open comments that many organisations would like to see more from NCVO for small organisations.

Sustainability and leadership are the most important issues for our members

In both 2015 and 2016, 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’ come up high in terms of importance in both years. ‘Connecting with bodies in the voluntary sector’ and ‘campaigning and influencing’ are still rated low in terms of importance.

We also asked respondents how much help NCVO had been to them in the same areas. We’re perceived as much more helpful on ‘governance’ than ‘leadership’. We’re reported to be more help on ‘sustainability’ this year than last, which is good news.

NCVO’s help to members in ‘communicating the value of their organisation’ is coming a lot lower in relative terms this year than last. This is a concern to us because this area has become more important to members this year than last.

Practical information and guidance support is still highly valued

The same as last year, when members were asked which kinds of support from NCVO were most important to them, practical information and guidance came up highest. Policy updates came next and conferences last, also reflecting last year’s results.

What will NCVO do with these results?

These results have been presented to all NCVO staff and the trustee board. They will now be fed into our planning process for 2017/18, helping us to plan our work around the needs of our members and some knowledge of where NCVO is making a difference and where we need to do more.


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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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