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NCVO recently announced Sarah Vibert as our new permanent CEO. Here, Sarah shares her vision for the organisation and the sector it represents.
I’d like to start by thanking the many NCVO members and partners for getting in touch over the past week to offer support and good wishes in my new role as CEO. This spirit of community and kindness is one of the things I love about the voluntary sector. I look forward to getting to know many more people from across our sector in the coming weeks and months.
I’ve spent pretty much my whole career working and volunteering in charities. My interest in the sector and commitment to social justice issues started at a young age. Growing up with my disabled brother, and experiencing the support given to me and my family by charities, I saw the impact of voluntary organisations first-hand.
I also know the value of volunteering from helping out at my sons’ rugby club training on a Sunday and as a member of the school parent teacher association. And like so many, I witnessed the power of communities when my neighbours rallied round to look after each other during the pandemic.
As a result of these professional and personal experiences, I believe voluntary organisations and volunteers have a critical role to play in creating a stronger, more connected, and fairer society.
We are at a moment of change and upheaval in society, where voluntary organisations and volunteers are needed more than ever. This is not just a result of the pandemic but also of other urgent societal challenges such as inequality, conflict and climate change. Voluntary organisations are always at the forefront of addressing these challenges, giving us hope for a better future, and pushing us to think differently as a society.
I see NCVO as having a unique role to play in enabling voluntary organisations and volunteers to thrive in these roles. And we’ve done this in different ways for over 100 years.
I want to lead NCVO to ensure we continue to adapt and respond to the current and future challenges in society. This means ensuring our vital work has the greatest possible impact for the voluntary sector and volunteers, and in turn for people and communities everywhere.
Relationships are at the heart of my vision for NCVO.
Firstly, enabling relationships between our 17,000+ strong membership community. NCVO’s members are the people with the expertise about voluntary organisations, so our role is to create the spaces for members to come together to share, learn from each other, and collaborate for the benefit of the people and communities they serve.
Secondly, a relationship between NCVO and our members. NCVO’s legitimacy comes from engagement with members. We need to continually gather insight from the people working and volunteering in member organisations, adapting our offer in response.
Thirdly, relationships with others who share our vision for stronger, fairer, and better-connected communities. This includes local and national government, funders, and infrastructure organisations such as our partners in The Civil Society Group. We must show generous leadership in this ecosystem, playing an enabling role wherever possible and a leading role where it’s right for our members and sector.
And finally, relationships between my NCVO colleagues. The support we provide for our sector comes from the people who make up NCVO. We must live our values of inclusion, openness and collaboration in everything we do internally and externally, as well as being ambitious for the voluntary sector and supporting all those working to improve and challenge how our sector works together.
I am hugely excited to have the opportunity to build on the work the team has undertaken over the past year to reinvent NCVO’s relationships with members, staff and the wider sector. We’ve got a great strategy, developed just over a year ago in consultation with over 900 people across the sector. My priorities as CEO align with our three key strategic areas: support, connect, amplify.
I will remain focused on providing high-quality support tailored to the changing needs of voluntary organisations. Most NCVO members are small organisations and tell us they join to get access to tools, information, training and other support to help them with the day-to-day of running of their charity.
We’ll build on our offer and also invest in our technology to make it easier to access support and navigate our services. I know from being CEO at The Neurological Alliance – a small charity – that I didn’t have time to put into accessing support – it needed to be really easy.
Building on my vision around relationships, the part of our work where the magic really happens is in connecting voluntary organisations. In a challenging funding environment, we’re seeing more organisations put cause above brand to work together to deliver for people and communities. We’re providing forums for people doing the tough job of running a charity to meet like-minded people to share and learn.
I also want us to really focus on connecting with the parts of the sector that are currently not part of our membership, and with voluntary organisations that are lacking the infrastructure support they need.
I will also ensure NCVO is amplifying the voice of voluntary organisations. NCVO will play a role joining up national and local, and ensuring the strengths of both are brought to the table in delivering for communities.
From a local perspective, I will continue to call for decision making around funding and design of services to be as close to communities as possible. And at the national level, NCVO will support the public and government-facing work of our members by clearing a path to ensure these audiences understand and value the role they play.
A recent example has been advocating with partners to protect the sector’s right to speak out on issues which, while not always politically popular, are important to the people and communities voluntary organisations work with.
Above all I want NCVO to feel approachable, to be relevant and trusted. I also want NCVO to be respected for the leadership and convening role we play, for the quality of our support and for the depth of engagement we have with our members and partners. We’ll be a learning organisation that continues to adapt to changes in the sector and wider society.
I’m truly honoured that the trustees, members and staff involved in the process have put their trust and confidence in me to work alongside you as NCVO’s CEO. If you’ve got thoughts on anything I’ve outlined here, want to share ideas, or just want to say hello – please do get in touch with me by email, on Twitter or LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you!
Highlights and key talking points from our annual general meeting
New Charity Interns project will be hosted by NCVO and offer paid internships to people aged over 50
The Foundation for Social Improvement and NCVO have reached an agreement to transfer the FSI’s key charity assets to NCVO when the organisation ceases activity on 3 May 2023
NCVO awarded Race Equality Matters’ Bronze Trailblazer status in recognition of our work towards becoming a more diverse, inclusive, and equal organisation
NCVO has recruited two charity leaders to its board of trustees, further strengthening and diversifying the skills and experiences of its governing body
Highlights from our 2022 annual general meeting
Two new directors join NCVO as organisation announces leadership team
Today we publish our annual report and financial accounts for the year ending 31 March 2022.