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

Every year since 2015 we’ve asked our members to tell us how we’re doing. This year we opened up the survey to our entire membership for the first time since the original survey. We are pleased to have received more responses than any previous year, including a number of members who joined NCVO in the last three years.

This is also the second year the survey has been linked to our theory of change, which helps us evaluate how well we’re achieving our long-term goals for the voluntary sector.

Here is what you told us this year.

You still think we’re good for the sector

76% of respondents think NCVO is heading in the right direction, compared with 77% last year. As we welcomed more than 800 new members in the last year, it is encouraging to see a continuing high level of satisfaction.

We also asked members to rate us on four key questions about our impact and the way we work. Again, the response was largely positive with 84% of members responding ‘somewhat’ or ‘a lot’ when asked if NCVO provides leadership in the voluntary sector.

Graph showing percentage of respondents who responded positively to question about NCVO's impact and the way we work

Funding is the most important issue for our members

Respondents told us they need most support in the area of funding and income. This was consistent across organisations of all sizes, apart from those with annual incomes above £10m.

Of the other identified needs, higher-income organisations were focused on impact and evaluation, while governance was a greater priority for smaller ones.

Governance is still the area where members find we are most helpful

When asked where we had been most helpful in the last 12 months, the area of governance and trustees was the most frequently selected by quite some margin. Governance has consistently been the top area where we’ve been most helpful since the survey began – a reflection of the work we’ve done in this area, including The Good Trustee Guide, Board Basics and the Charity Governance Code.

A small percentage (17%) of respondents said that we had not been helpful at all in the past year. We want to change this in the future. We will work hard to help new members understand what support is available, ensure that our offer is relevant, and that our services are accessible to all.

We need to ensure we’re most helpful in the priority areas for our members

We asked two questions in the survey:

  • Over the past 12 months, in what areas has NCVO been most helpful?
  • Over the next 12 months, in what areas does your organisation need support?

Respondents could select up to four options. We then produced a ranking of the areas based on the number of times they were selected.

The graph below shows the results of both questions. We compared the areas where we have been most helpful against the areas in which respondents say their organisation will need support over the next 12 months.

Red arrows indicate an area where we may need to focus. These are areas where NCVO has been less helpful, but which will be a priority in the next year. This is the case in three areas: funding and income, impact and evaluation, digital and technology. For example, respondents said that impact and evaluation was a much higher organisational need over the next 12 months (ranked 2nd) compared to how helpful we had been in this area in the past 12 months (ranked 7th).

Green arrows show the opposite: these are areas where we have been more helpful in areas that are now less of a priority. This is seen in the areas of governance and trustees, involving and managing volunteers, HR, and strategy and planning.

This isn’t to say that we will now automatically prioritise the red areas and deprioritise the green; rather we will explore our offer in these areas further. We know that we have more to offer our members – particularly on funding, impact and digital – and we’ll focus on these areas through our next planning process.

Graph showing relationship between areas where we've been helpful over the last 12 months vs. repsondents' priorities for the next 12 months

Members like to find support online – but don’t always find what they need

When we asked how you like to access support, the most popular ways were our publications and reports, the Knowhow Nonprofit website, and online training such as webinars and Studyzone. Knowhow Nonprofit in particular was popular for smaller and more recently-established organisations.

We also asked about specific practical resources such as Funding Central, our quality standards, and Volunteers’ Week. The majority of respondents said they hadn’t accessed them. This trend was also apparent when users were asked which resources they had accessed to understand changes for the voluntary sector. Our challenge for the future is to ensure that users are more aware of the range of support we offer, and that our resources are providing value.

Graph showing the extent to which NCVO resources have supported respondents in their understanding of the voluntary sector

What happens next

As we head into our centenary year, it’s good to see that the majority of you see NCVO as heading in the right direction. However, the survey gives us clear areas to explore further – both in terms of more research and exploration through our next planning cycle. We know that smaller and newer organisations can struggle to navigate our support offer, and we’re planning an overhaul of how members can access our support online.

The results of these surveys will inform our planning for 2019. We will seek to address the areas where you have told us we are falling short, such as funding, impact and digital. And next year, you’ll have another opportunity to tell us how well we’ve done.

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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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