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NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations) is the representative body for the voluntary and community sector in England. Its mission is to champion the voluntary sector and volunteering, represent the voluntary sector to government and support all voluntary organisations, from small community groups to large charities.
Founded in 1919, NCVO now has 12,000 members, an annual income in excess of £10 million and 105 employees. It is based in King’s Cross in London.
In 2013, NCVO merged with Volunteering England and its five year strategy which began in 2014 includes a commitment to champion volunteering. The Institute for Voluntary Research (IVR) became part of NCVO in the merger.
NCVO was founded just after just after the First World War as the National Council of Social Services. It became the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in 1980. Many well-established voluntary organisations started out as projects within NCVO, including Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau. Community Matters, the Youth Hostel Association and Charities Aid Foundation.
NCVO’s chief executive, in post since 1994, is Sir Stuart Etherington. The body’s President is Tanni Grey-Thompson and its chair former BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis. NCVO is governed by a 12-person trustee board and a 50-strong members’ assembly. NCVO’s 12,000 member organisations make up a third of the voluntary sector workforce in England.
NCVO’s income comes mainly from member fees, services (including the use of its building as a conference venue and office rental), and an annual contribution from Charities Aid Foundation, which was originally created as an internal NCVO department before becoming independent in 1974.
NCVO is divided into seven sections. They are: consultancy, membership, external relations (including media relations and Parliamentary liaison), policy and public services, research (incorporating the Institute for Volunteering Research), volunteering and charities evaluation.
NCVO is currently working to a five year strategy which began in 2014. The new strategy reflects the fact that championing volunteering will be at the heart of its work. NCVO’s aims are to ensure the government knows the true value of volunteering and the voluntary sector and to strengthen good practice in volunteering through high quality guidance and advice.
Another strategic priority for NCVO is to campaign for a supportive legal and regulatory framework that enhances public trust in the voluntary sector. It also has commitments to develop support and advice around the effective use of resources, including mergers and collaboration, and to build stronger links with the Charity Commission so it is identified as the first port of call for new charities.