Around a quarter of voluntary sector organisations receive funding from government, often for delivering vital public services. In 2013/14 the voluntary sector received £15bn (34%) of its income in the form of contracts and grants from government.
The voluntary sector can help to transform public services – not just by delivering services but also by shaping service design. Many voluntary organisations have pioneered the services they provide – by being the first to identify and meet a need and then persuading the state to take responsibility for making the necessary services universally available.
Voluntary organisations often have a unique perspective on how to improve services. Often based within the communities they work with, charities bring a local expertise to public service delivery and are able to reach and provide a voice for some of the most marginalised and isolated people.
Through research, policy, influencing, training and guidance NCVO seeks to reduce the barriers which prevent charities from playing a fuller role in public services.
What we're working on
- We are working with government to develop measures which help smaller charities play a bigger role in public services. Our former public services manager Nick Davies wrote on the blog about the most recent announcement.
- NCVO, Clinks and Third Sector Research Centre are monitoring the voluntary sector's involvement in Transforming Rehabilitation. We will shortly be publishing a new survey seeking the views of charities involved in probation.
- We are actively involved in the UK Open Government Civil Society Network, with a particular interest in greater contract and grant transparency.
- The Cultural Commissioning Programme works with policy makers and stakeholders to embed support for cultural commissioning.
Find out more about public services
- The UK Civil Society Almanac and Institute for Volunteering Research both have statistics about public service delivery by the voluntary sector.
- We have lots of information on commissioning and procurement over on NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit. Watch our free Studyzone video, Influencing decision makers and commissioners.
How we can help
- NCVO is an approved provider for Big Potential, a Big Lottery Fund grant fund, which aims to raise awareness of the social investment market and support VCSEs who want to prepare themselves for social investment or winning contracts.
- We run training courses and consultancy about preparing for commissioning and developing consortia.
- We run a work shadow scheme, A Day in the Life, for workers from the public sector and voluntary sector swap places for a day.
Latest public services press releases
- NCVO: Opening up public services to smaller charities will lead to better outcomes
Commenting on today's announcement by the minister for civil society of a package of measures to help tackle the challenge of getting small charities into the public services supply chain, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:
Opening up public services commissioning to smaller charities will lead to better outcomes for the people who depend on them. The expertise of charities helps create caring, responsive and efficient public services.
- Charities should be central to NHS decision-making and delivery, says new government-backed report
Charities and social enterprises should be deeply involved at every level of the health and care system, according to a new report backed by Alistair Burt, Simon Stevens and Duncan Selbie.