NCVO’s priorities for the next year

Introducing our five-year strategy (PDF, 3MB) in 2014, we wrote: ‘We expect the environment for voluntary organisations and volunteering to be very different in five years’ time.’

Well, if you want the introduction to your five-year strategy to stand the test of time, ‘things will be very different’ is certainly a safe thing to say. And while a number of our assumptions about what would happen in that time have come to pass – more demand for public services, pressure on public spending, greater expectations of transparency and accountability – there were others we certainly didn’t predict. Notably, the political and economic upheaval caused by the result of the 2016 referendum. Or the fact of the 2016 referendum, for that matter.

In the context of an organisation celebrating its centenary this year, five years may seem a relatively short time span. But since 2014, we’ve had two general elections, the assassination of an MP, three major terror attacks and two paradigm-shifting referendums. In 2014, the terms ‘#metoo’ and ‘fake news’ were unheard of. While same-sex marriages now seem unremarkable, the UK’s very first same-sex weddings took place just a day prior to the publication of our 2014 strategy. If you wanted a household gadget five years ago, you might have popped into Maplin or BHS, just a couple of the well-known brands that have disappeared since, largely as a result of internet competition. And in the meantime, technologies such as smartwatches and smart speakers have gone from being science fiction to entirely commonplace. With all this in mind, who’s to say where we’ll be in 2024?

The last five years

We feel that the past five years have broadly been as successful as they could have been for NCVO, given that political and government attention has been largely monopolised by Brexit:

  • We’ve maintained our position as the authoritative voice for charities, community groups and volunteering.
  • Our membership has grown by around a third, meaning we’re directly helping more organisations than ever before.
  • We continue to be in a stable financial position, allowing us to invest in continually improving our services.

Taking a breather on a new strategy

Last year, as we were approaching the end date on this strategy, we decided against creating another major such plan, for now at least, for three main reasons:

  • Firstly, we think the top-line priorities it outlines are still right for NCVO.
  • Secondly, we’re not totally sure that setting such a long-term strategy makes sense in the current climate.
  • And thirdly, because we have a new chief executive starting later this summer, who will play an important role in helping us develop our strategic vision for the future.

We envisage setting out a new strategy at some point in 2020.

Our priorities for the coming year

So to fill the gap because we think it’s important that members have a sense of what we’re prioritising, today we’ve published a summary of our operational priorities for the coming year. These are the result of internal discussion informed by our knowledge of NCVO and the sector. They’ve been agreed by NCVO’s board.

Among these, we’ve set out three big priorities for the coming year:

  • Strengthen our local connections. We want to make sure we’re always in touch with what’s happening on the ground. Working closely with local voluntary sector infrastructure bodies will be a big part of this.
  • Champion diversity and inclusion in the charity sector. Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for many in the sector at the moment and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support this.
  • Make finding the support you need quick and easy. We’ve got tonnes of information on our various websites, and we know it could be easier to find what you need, or to buy things from us online. We’re going to sort this out.

One thing we’re very aware of is that on all these areas, we really need your help and your feedback for us to do the best job we can for the whole sector. So if you have ideas for things you’d like to see us do, please get in touch.

Read NCVO’s priorities and workplan for 2019/20.


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Avatar photo Susan Cordingley is director of planning and resources at NCVO. She leads on NCVO's fifth strategic aim, to be a sustainable and socially responsible organisation.

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