A wish-list from members in the East Midlands

Last month we worked with our colleagues at Lincolnshire CVS to bring a Members’ Assembly to members in the East Midlands.

Members’ Assemblies are fast becoming an NCVO staff favourite: an opportunity to meet with volunteers and leaders making positive change in local areas. It’s an education for us to hear their stories, questions, and ask them for feedback on the work we’re doing. We wouldn’t feel right doing very much here at NCVO without the voices of our members.

The question

In Lincoln we put a somewhat romantic question to our delegates:

If you could have absolutely anything, what would you need to feel successful in the sector?

What emerged was an ambitious wish-list that echoes the needs of many members we’ve met with all over England. I brought the idealist requests home to NCVO and challenged: ‘are these wishes really so unobtainable?’ While we realised that some of them might require cosmic intervention, we deciphered the ways in which NCVO could be of service to our members and the wider sector.

The answers

‘We need a never-ending stream of willing, skilled and engaged volunteers who show up consistently’

NCVO is driven by a desire to support great voluntary action. While we can’t secure a constant supply of willing bodies, we can help organisations to understand, recruit, engage and acknowledge excellent volunteering.

We recently released Time Well Spent, a report on our national survey on volunteering. Centred on making volunteering a valuable experience for organisations and volunteers, it prompts organisations to examine ways of working, providing a rounder view of how volunteers prefer to give their time.

NCVO’s Investing in Volunteers journey helps organisations to develop quality volunteer programmes and experiences that organisations can be proud of. NCVO members get a discount on the IiV quality standard, and all organisations can download the standard framework for free.

Other resources include:

‘Longer term funding. We all want to be responsible, sustainable organisations that aren’t living hand to mouth’

We feel that being responsible and sustainable, in large part, comes down to information and planning.

Seek the best information. Every year NCVO produces The Road Ahead, which is our best estimate at the contributing factors that could affect the running of your organisation for the upcoming year. We also share a funding round-up every month, updating you on important information pertinent to your fundraising strategy.

Diversify your income. NCVO members can use our Income Diversification Planner, which helps organisations identify realistic options and create an action plan to getting the sustainable funding they need.

Other resources include:

‘We need local authorities and commissioners to meet a standard, making collaboration with them more successful’

NCVO continues to influence commissioning and procurement practice through the Crown Representative’s VCSE advisory group, and through the Commissioning Academy. We sit on the Health and Wellbeing Alliance and use our position to advocate for the role of the voluntary sector especially in tackling health inequalities. We have also submitted a response to a consultation on how to account for social value at the level of central government. We advocate for government, both central and local, to adhere to the principles of the Compact, of which there are also local versions. The government’s civil society strategy promised a review of the Compact, but steps toward this have yet to be seen.

Get in touch with us to share your concerns about social value, commissioning and procurement, or relationships between voluntary organisations.

‘We need help to powerfully articulate our value, impact and uniqueness’

This member-wish instilled a depth of admiration in me. Earlier this year I met with a number of grassroots organisations to celebrate their contribution to their communities. Every one of the volunteers I spoke with seemed drenched in modesty and I wondered if the smaller sizes of their operations could be dictating how they see and speak about what they’re doing. It felt like a privilege to acknowledge that the work they were doing was actually changing lives and subtly sculpting their communities. At NCVO we need to be better at supporting all organisations to confidently shout their value from the rooftops- something that we’ll consider in the coming year.

What we do have:

‘More involvement with NCVO: we want to be a part of designing the solutions for a better future’

In September, on Karl Wilding’s first day as our new CEO, we’ll start to ask some of the big questions that will help to shape our future:

  • What’s our vision for society and the voluntary sector?
  • What’s NCVO’s role – and that of our members – in achieving that?
  • What do we need to do – and stop doing – to support our members to be most effective?

We want to talk to as many people as possible – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we believe our work will be stronger for it. Your triumphs and frustrations are important to us and we believe that membership bodies should be judged on how effectively they listen to all views across the voluntary sector, how well they amplify those voices and get the issues that matter onto the agenda.

We will shortly be announcing how NCVO members and others can get involved – online, at an event near you, and over the phone.

But if you can’t wait then there are ways to get involved already, through our members’ assemblies, the APPG, local listening project and by giving us feedback directly. We want to hear from you!

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in learning more about our membership and being part of our growing community, please visit www.ncvo.org.uk/membership or email membership@ncvo.org.uk


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Picture of Hollie McKee the Senior Membership Officer Hollie is the Senior Membership Officer at NCVO and leads on supporting the membership journey of our 14,000 members. Her priority is listening to members and connecting them with the networks and practical resources they need. She has a background in PR and membership, working with both grassroots and large charities throughout the country.

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