Headlines: May 9th, 2005

Organisations in the voluntary sector are being reminded that time is running out for them to have their say on what issues their umbrella body, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, should be campaigning on for the next five to ten years. A big consultation exercise ends later this month.The twelve-week consultation will help to determine what NCVO presses for in the future. It has included meetings in all nine English regions and now the Council’s Chief Executive, Stuart Etherington, is urging voluntary organisations of all sizes to tell it what their hopes and fears are for the future.

He said the consultation was the most important piece of work to look at the sector’s future since Nick Deakin’s 1996 report that led to the Compact, the Charities Bill and tax reform on donations.

“Too often the voluntary sector gets told by infrastructure bodies, think tanks, academics and politicians, what it wants and what it needs. But the only organisation that really knows what it is like to be a community project in the Midlands is a community project in the Midlands,” he added.

The consultation meetings that took place In March and April were run by the NCVO with the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service. The organisers say the sessions have produced a wealth of feedback and ideas on questions ranging from what kind of relationships respondents think charities should have with government to what difficulties they encounter getting funding and whether they think there is any such thing as the voluntary sector at all.

The deadline for views to be submitted is May 27th and a report on the results of the exercise will be published by NCVO in the autumn setting out the key strategic challenges facing the voluntary sector over the next decade.

Charities and voluntary organisations can respond to “Your Future: a consultation” online or by post. The consultation document is based on four strategy papers commissioned last year and brought together as, “Voluntary Action – meeting the challenges of the 21st Century”. This is available as background reading to anyone wishing to respond to the consultation. The consultation can be downloaded or completed online at www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/volact