Supporting, connecting, mobilising, evolving: NCVO’s future membership offer

What does a modern charity membership body do and how does it do it? Those are the questions we’ve asked ourselves and the 900+ people who we’ve spoken to over the last 18 months about the future of NCVO. Today, with our new strategy in place and restructure complete, we are excited to share our answers.

In many ways our new strategy is evolution not revolution. What our members told us they want most is help with the fundamentals of running a charity, adapting to an ever-changing environment and growing to meet new demand. NCVO’s focus on providing high quality practical support and guidance on the things that matter to organisations continues. I’ve run a small charity and I know just how valuable this support is so you can focus on the bigger picture.  This isn’t just about practical support though, it’s also about harnessing our sector’s collective power. We will continue to push for the best possible environment for charities and volunteering at a time when they are never more needed and never more stretched.

Covid-19 has shone a bright light on the crucial role of charities and volunteers. NCVO has an important role to play in capitalising on this. We will focus on mobilising the sector to make sure the essential role that charities and volunteers play is recognised among decision makers and the public. We choose the word mobilise deliberately; a blend of insider and outsider influencing is essential to achieving a step change in the way in which charities and volunteers are valued.

Listening and collaborating

In terms of what we do, many things are staying the same. For example, our research, such as the Almanac, will continue to be an important part of our toolkit for making the case for charities and volunteering and understanding the sector. What will change is how we do things. Here we are guided by an overarching principle of being member-focused. This feels like an obvious thing for a membership body to say but meeting the needs of 15,000+ diverse members is no easy task. We are determined to take a more collective approach and recognise that members are the experts in charities and volunteering. For policy work this means a different approach to developing policy positions, and a different approach to influencing. It means a far greater focus on really understanding the challenges our members face, and their hopes and dreams, and continually developing our offer in response.

Making connections is another core principle for our future. This is building on a collaborative approach already in use pre-covid, but further developed through the pandemic. Collaboration isn’t easy but enabling different strengths to come together to tackle the same problem will always have more impact. This collaborative theme also runs through our member offer. Our ambition is that joining NCVO will feel like joining a community. We will focus more on building networks of our members, creating an events series that brings members together to learn, share, connect and collaborate.  The pandemic has accelerated plans to move more events and training online, meaning we can be inclusive of a larger cohort of members, not just those who can travel to an event in a London.

In all the charities I’ve worked for, stopping doing things has always been the hardest thing to do. NCVO has seen a financial impact from covid-19, and a reducing income and smaller staff team means we have to do less. But the pandemic has pushed us to really focus on where NCVO can have the greatest impact. Again, sticking with the theme of collaboration, we’ve considered who else is better placed to do things than us. We are delighted that our volunteering partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking on accreditation of Investing in Volunteers for England. We’ve begun talking to organisations who are interested in taking on accreditation of Trusted Charity and would love to hear from others. Through this process we have looked at where there is duplication in services in order to prioritise where we can have the biggest impact. A result of this was the decision to close Funding Central but there are a number of good alternative services that

Evolving our culture

To deliver a different, better service to members, as well as responding to reduced income, we needed to shape ourselves differently as an organisation. A strategy-led restructure requires complete transformation, not just changing a few posts here and there. Equally important to structural change however is changing the culture. We’ve been open about our work on EDI and I hope that we are tackling these issues with determination, with humility, and with a recognition that we ourselves have much to learn. Cultural change doesn’t happen quickly, but we’ve started on this journey. Our new people and culture team will be central to driving this. Culture change is one of the core building blocks of enabling NCVO to be a modern, responsive, relevant membership body and I will say more about this soon.

I wanted to conclude by paying tribute to our brilliant staff. The resilience of the team over the last few months has been incredible after an already tough year. Redundancies have sadly been a feature across the sector over the last year, and NCVO too has said farewell to many talented and valued colleagues. Through all this change, the team’s ambition for charities and volunteering has shone through, as it has across the sector. With the restructure complete, there is a feeling of positivity among the staff who are keen to get on and start delivering against the new direction in their new roles. Our team will be that extra member of your team. We will support with the day-to-day challenges of running a charity so you can focus on the cause. We will connect you with others working on the same challenges. And we will bang the drum for what you do so that the crucial role of charities and volunteers is recognised, and the sector can thrive.


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