How we used feedback on the difference we make

Last year, for the second 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. This is how what you told us has influenced our work.

How are we responding?

Staff used the insights from the survey, alongside other data, as we kicked off our annual planning process. When planning, we discussed how we could best achieve the outcomes in our new theory of change (which we will publish in the coming months). We prioritised ideas based on several criteria. The first of these was what our members and other voluntary organisations need. The results of this survey were a key source of insight into need.

The importance of leadership

We asked how important a number of areas were to members, how much support they needed and how much help NCVO had been. Back in 2015 we asked about ‘leadership and governance’, but in 2016 we asked about them separately. 79% of members told us that leadership was very important, compared to 75% for governance. But only 63% told us that we had been a lot, some or a little help, compared to 70% for governance. In response:

Communicating the value of our organisations

We were disappointed to see that members felt we had been less help in ‘communicating the value of your organisation’ than we had been the previous year (58% told us that we had been a lot, some or a little help, compared with 75% the previous year). This was particularly concerning as members also told us that it had become more important to them (third most important, after sustainability and leadership, compared with fifth most important a year earlier). In response:

Supporting small and local organisations

Some members told us in the free text responses that we are not doing enough for small organisations. In response:

  • Our chief executive visited lots of small members over the last year and fed back learning to all staff.
  • We launched a new monthly email for small members (income under £500,000pa).
  • We launched new tools and resources for our smaller members, including a business plan template and guidance, risk register template and a joint working agreement checklist. Work is well underway on ‘volunteers and the law’ and financial procedures resources.
  • Supporting small and local organisations is another of the six priorities in our strategic business plan for 2017/18. This includes convening local infrastructure organisations to discuss how we can better work with and support them.

The importance of practical information and guidance

As in the previous year, when members were asked which kinds of support from NCVO were most important to them, practical information and guidance came up highest. My colleague Myles has shared our plans for practical support.

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 again. We have a new monitoring and evaluation framework for NCVO which gives us a plan for how we will assess the progress we are making towards delivering the outputs and achieving the outcomes in our theory of change. Some of the questions have changed because of this. 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 contact at a sample* of member organisations today. 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.


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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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