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Theory of change

This page summarises our theory of change which shows how we will bring about the main changes that are described in our 2014-19 strategic plan.

Theory of change visual mapYou can also download an interactive visual map (PDF, 50KB) with links to the outputs that support our outcomes. The map was developed by NCVO staff and trustees in summer 2016, supported by our NCVO Charities Evaluation Services team. Our strategic plan was also developed in consultation with partners and members.

Our theory of change describes our outward-facing work and how we will achieve change; this is underpinned by vital internal work that ensures we remain a sustainable and socially responsible organisation.

The theory of change focuses on three main things we want to see:

  1. An operating environment where voluntary organisations and volunteering can thrive
  2. Stronger voluntary organisations
  3. More and better volunteering

An operating environment where voluntary organisations and volunteering can thrive

For voluntary organisations and volunteering to thrive, they need a supportive operating environment. Here, we aim to achieve three long-term outcomes through our work:

  • Public policy that is more supportive of the voluntary sector and volunteering.
  • More proportionate and appropriate regulation of the voluntary sector and volunteering.
  • The public having greater trust and confidence in the voluntary sector and volunteering.

To help achieve these we champion the voluntary sector by:

  • working with the media to ensure more helpful and accurate media coverage of the voluntary sector and volunteering
  • working directly with decision makers (funders, regulators and policy makers), eg through meetings, lobbying and policy development that is underpinned by research. We will help them better understand the needs, role, environment and potential of the voluntary sector and volunteering
  • producing research, information and interpretation to support our members and other voluntary organisations to communicate with decision-makers, the media and the public
  • encouraging and supporting voluntary organisations to adopt good practice, including being transparent and accountable in their work.

Stronger voluntary organisations

Stronger voluntary organisations make more of a difference through their work. We aim to achieve two long-term outcomes through our work to strengthen voluntary organisations:

  • Voluntary organisations are more sustainably resourced.
  • Voluntary organisations are better able to deliver their work (eg their services and campaigns).

To help achieve these we will strengthen voluntary organisations by:

  • offering guidance and support to help organisations access funding and investment opportunities
  • promoting and supporting organisations to use quality standards to help them to become better led, governed and managed
  • negotiating reduced-price services for our members, to save them time and money and help them to source high quality products or services
  • creating and sharing research and the latest thinking about the sector and its environment, to help voluntary organisations to become more resilient, adapt better to challenges and act on opportunities
  • signposting other sources of support, and helping voluntary organisations support each other to share good practice, skills and assets.

More and better volunteering

Volunteering is fundamental to a thriving, healthy and open society. It’s integral to delivering and supporting a diverse range of services and activities that enrich communities. We want to see two long-term outcomes achieved as a result of our work:

  • A greater range of people engage positively in social action through volunteering.
  • A better volunteering experience for volunteers and organisations.

To help achieve these we will grow and enhance volunteering by:

  • building the evidence base for, and championing, volunteering so that more people (public, voluntary organisations and policymakers) recognise how volunteering benefits people and society, and invest in volunteering
  • developing, promoting and supporting good practice in volunteer management, so that voluntary organisations offer high-quality, well-managed volunteering opportunities
  • offering signposting to existing volunteer centres or systems for people wishing to volunteer
  • helping voluntary organisations to find high-quality trustees; we also offer training to trustees to help them better fulfil their role.
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