What we've heard about our vision and purpose

In September, we kicked off our new strategy process. This coincided with Karl Wilding starting as our new CEO (you can read more about Karl’s first weeks here). Since then, it's been a busy time for charities with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and the calling of a general election.

Over the coming months, we’ll be speaking to thousands of charities, volunteers, members and decision makers about the future. So far, we’ve spent time talking to our staff team and trustees through two big away days in October.

In September and October, we also heard from members in Birmingham, Devon and Cornwall at our regular Members' Assemblies and incorporated what we learned from our local listening project. Excitingly, our main engagement of members will start in mid-November through a major exercise called #project1000, where our staff team will call 1000 member organisations between now and February 2020.

What we know so far

We want to share what we’re hearing and learning as we go. So even at this early stage, here are the top four things we’re unpicking and grappling with at the moment:

  • One of our big questions has been whether we need an organisational vision for society or for charities. From our away days, it is clear that we need to rethink our vision and be bolder in articulating what we’re here to achieve and what we want to see different about the world. The topics that have resonated so far are a vision that describes a country where communities are connected and less divided, a society that is fair, inclusive and one that prioritises environmental sustainability and future generations. Our role, as a sector, should be to hold a mirror up to society with a vision for the alternative.
  • At a high level, our mission remains clear: that NCVO exists to support voluntary organisations make the biggest difference they can, enable charities to be well-run, impactful and trusted, and empower and support people to take action on the causes they care about. The big questions we need to explore next are how we support individuals and groups that are taking action in more informal, less structured and in #newpower ways.
  • 'Who', 'how' and 'where' are important questions for the strategy process. While NCVO is holding more events around the country (including the scaling up of our Members' Assemblies), we need to be thinking more radically about where and how we deliver our practical support. Our members want us to be physically near them and alongside them as they do their work. They talked of NCVO as a network, not an organisation – and definitely not one in London. While in cities, we may be literally surrounded by charities, in less well populated areas charity leaders can feel isolated and disconnected from the wider civil society.
  • People want us to be bolder when it comes to speaking out about the big issues of the day, the challenges facing the voluntary sector, and in defending the interests of our members. Members, staff and trustees told us that NCVO should be using its clout and position to be a louder voice for charities and to use its convening power to tackle issues, such as short-term funding and commissioning processes.

At this stage, we’re just beginning the conversations. We’ll be using the many opportunities in the coming months to dig deeper, listen more, and test what we’re thinking.

Do you have some reflections on what we should be doing differently? Come along to a Members' Assembly or send us your views.

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