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NCVO restructures following end of multiple time-limited projects

NCVO has today announced that a number of projects will come to a close at the end of the financial year and that as a consequence it has undertaken a restructure of its departments.

The projects that are coming to an end

  • Big Assist: Initially launched in 2012 for two years, Big Assist was highly successful and was last year extended by its funders, the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) for a further year. It comes to a close at the end of March, having helped over 600 infrastructure organisations to improve their operations and become more sustainable, delivering over £4.5m worth of support and advice. Its legacy includes a network of thirty ‘beacons for change’ whose good practice will provide a model for other organisations, and a peer-to-peer support network for support and advice.
  • Volunteering in Care Homes: This three-year Department of Health-funded project has worked to build links between care homes and volunteer centres in five clinical commissioning group areas. Over 200 volunteers supported nearly 500 residents to pursue interests and activities of their choice. Its interim evaluation found ‘compelling evidence’ of ‘significant positive impacts on residents, relatives and volunteers, especially around social and emotional wellbeing’. Learning and good practice developed by the project will be taken forward by health stakeholders.
  • VCSE Health Review: A one-year project that NCVO has run to assess funding and partnerships between health and care agencies and voluntary sector organisations, the VCSE Health Review has been funded by the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England. The project’s recommendations will help shape the future relationship between the sectors both locally and nationally.

NCVO is in discussion with the funder over one other project. Additionally, the Cabinet Office contract for NCVO to run Funding Central, the website that lists grants and loans available to the sector, is coming to an end. NCVO will continue to run Funding Central and is looking at various options to move towards a different funding model for this important resource.


Income from all these projects makes a contribution to NCVO’s core costs. As a result of the end of these projects, and as a result of the loss of their contribution to NCVO’s core costs, NCVO has carried out a wider reorganisation. The majority of staff working on these projects are located in NCVO’s volunteering and development department. NCVO is reducing its number of departments from four to three. NCVO undertook a redundancy process, following which, and accounting for transfers to other posts internally, a total of 11.4 FTE posts became redundant (12 staff members) – predominantly those working on these projects. NCVO’s total headcount will become 101 (95.2FTE).

Under the new structure, which takes effect from the new financial year, NCVO will have three departments: Public policy and volunteering, enterprise and development, and planning and resources (1). The structure reflects a complete integration of volunteering policy and support into NCVO, following the merger with Volunteering England three years ago. This will allow NCVO to put its full weight behind volunteering policy and support, building further on its investment over the last three years.

As a consequence of the restructure, three director posts were made redundant: director of public policy (Karl Wilding), executive director of volunteering and development (Justin Davis Smith), and director of enterprise (Richard Williams). Two new positions were created: director of public policy and volunteering, and director of enterprise and development, which were ringfenced for applications from the directors whose roles were made redundant. Justin Davis Smith chose not to apply for any of the roles. Justin is instead taking up a new post at City University Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness as a senior research fellow, focusing on volunteering research and teaching, and will also continue to provide high-level advice on volunteering matters to NCVO. 

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said:

These projects have achieved an enormous amount, and their legacy will continue to support the voluntary sector for years to come. It is the nature of project funding that it will end at a certain point. Naturally, where a number of projects come to an end at the same time there is a wider impact on us as an organisation, which we are accounting for by restructuring.

NCVO is in a healthy financial position but we must act prudently so we can continue our work representing voluntary organisations and volunteering for years to come. We are undergoing what is an increasingly common fact of life in the sector – acting ahead of time to adapt quickly and effectively to changing funding circumstances. The new structure ensures that all our front-line policy and support work will continue and indeed be strengthened.

Volunteers make the voluntary sector what it is. Bringing volunteering policy together with the rest of our policy works makes sense in a climate where it is increasingly impossible to consider any aspect of voluntary sector policy without giving serious thought to its implications for volunteering and volunteers. When we think about issues such as volunteers’ involvement in public services, a matter on which the spotlight grows all the time, we cannot disentangle that from the broader picture of public services and their commissioning.

It is sensible also to combine our quality standards and sector support work, bringing Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation, Investing in Volunteers, and NCVO Mentoring and Befriending together with NCVO Charities Evaluation Services and consultancy. We have invested heavily in our volunteering quality standards over the last three years, and will continue to do so.


For further information, please contact Aidan Warner, senior external relations officer, NCVO.

Telephone 020 7520 2413
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1. Teams in the current volunteering and development directorate will move to other NCVO departments

  • Volunteering policy and support will become part of NCVO’s policy and public services team in the public policy and volunteering department.
  • NCVO’s cultural commissioning project will move to NCVO’s policy public services team in the public policy and volunteering department.
  • Volunteer centre support and volunteering quality standards, including VCQA, IiV, and NCVO Mentoring and Befriending, will join the new enterprise and development department, where they will sit alongside NCVO’s other support and effectiveness work, including NCVO Charity Evaluation Services.
  • Digital and communications will move to NCVO’s planning and resources department.
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