Independence and values

Voluntary organisations exist because people with shared values come together to achieve something independently of state and markets.

These shared values include:

  • a belief in collective action
  • social justice and making a positive difference to people's lives
  • taking a holistic approach to people's needs
  • empowering people and making voices heard
  • building social capital and reinvesting financial surpluses for community need.

Threats to these shared values also jeopardise the independence of voluntary organisations and the sector as a whole. These include:

  • the 'top-down' nature of the relationship between government and the voluntary sector
  • funders preventing legitimate campaigning, lobbying and advocacy either directly or implicitly
  • funders influencing the activity and direction of voluntary organisations
  • voluntary organisations relying too heavily on one source of funding or contract
  • perceived pressures to become more like a business, rather than more business-like.

Individual voluntary organisations – and the sector as a whole – must hold onto their values and continue to operate independently of both state and markets.

Our independence and values give users and donors confidence in our services and advocacy. They enable us to challenge government and markets and speak up for individuals and communities who might not otherwise be heard.

In short, the sector's independence and values are vital for democracy.

Review of fundraising self-regulation

NCVO’s chief executive, Sir Stuart Etherington, has been asked to lead a review of the current system of fundraising self-regulation.

Find out more

Latest independence and values press releases

NCVO: Boost small charities with dormant assets funding

Charities can expect to see little rise in income from donations or government, with earned income the best prospect for future growth, the charity sector’s representative body said today.

Authoritative new data on the charity sector’s finances published today by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) shows that income from government is at best flat-lining for most of the sector, while the charity representative body forecasts a challenging public fundraising environment as a consequence of broader economic conditions.

Sir Stuart Etherington's 2017 state of the sector address to NCVO Annual Conference delegates

Good morning and welcome, everybody. It’s good to see so many of you here today in what we believe is the biggest conference of voluntary organisations that we have ever held.

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