Takeaways from the new NCVO report: The Road Ahead 2020

28 January, 2020


The NCVO has launched a new report, The Road Ahead 2020, which reviews how the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector operates, and identifies areas for improvement.

We’ve summed up the most relevant findings from The Road Ahead 2020 that you can apply to your own organisation and to the Bristol VCSE sector.

Low productivity, and a rise in the working poor, affect the economy

The report shows poor productivity since the financial crash of 2008, and an increase in the working poor – people of working age, who are currently in work, but living in poverty. Meanwhile, austerity has been paused, but not reversed.

As for the increased minimum wage that will come into effect in April?

The rise in the minimum wage will be welcomed by many, such as those working in social care, but a less than favourable short-to-medium term outlook for the UK economy suggests the financial situation of many households is unlikely to drastically improve anytime soon.’

VCSE organisations working with people in poverty or with acute needs may find demand for their services continues to grow. However, the new minimum wage will also affect the finances of an organisation and its use of volunteers or part-time employees. You may find these upcoming Voscur courses useful: Volunteers and the Law (Tuesday 25 February), Basic Bid Writing (Tuesday 24 March), and Introduction to Financial Management (Thursday 26 March).

We must all consider our environmental impact

As the report points out, the public is increasingly worried about environmental issues, and NCVO cites a 2019 YouGov survey where the environment is listed as the third most pressing concern for British people.

The report asks: ‘How can your organisation contribute to tackling climate change? What actions does it need to take to improve its environmental footprint?’

We also know this is a concern in and around Bristol, with many city organisations declaring a Climate Emergency, such as Bristol City Council (the first council in the country to do so), the Watershed, and the University of Bristol.

There are realistic steps that individuals and organisations can take to reduce their carbon footprint, which is why Voscur has introduced a new course, Act Now! Becoming Carbon Neutral by 2030. Join us at Knowle West Media Centre on Wednesday 12 February for this half-day course.

Studying your data will help, if it has a purpose

You’ve probably heard a lot about data in the last few years: how you store it and what you do with it. NCVO explains: ‘Charities wanting to make more use of their data, should start with assessing what data is available and where the gaps are. Collecting data for data’s sake won’t lead to useful insights.’

Gathering and studying data can be very useful – for example, identifying gaps in service delivery, or working out why service users stop engaging. However, you need to be realistic about which data is necessary; GDPR means you must justify reasons for collecting and holding data. For example, when someone registers to attend a free event, you need their name and email address, but how much more information is essential? 

The report also suggests hiring part-time technical staff. You might not need someone five days a week, or have the budget for permanent digital experts, but you could benefit from a few hours’ help on a regular basis.

Tech must be up-to-date to avoid problems

Many VCSE organisations can’t afford to keep up with the latest technology, but some digital tools and systems should be a financial priority to keep data safe.

NCVO explains that outdated operating systems, such as Windows 7, can leave you ‘vulnerable to cyber-attacks’. It’s not just Windows trying to make you buy something new – using Windows 10 means you keep your computer operating efficiently and reduce your vulnerability to hackers.

We also recommend you consider the drain on staff time if your team uses very old hardware, such as a laptop that’s long seen better days. If it takes a long time to load and to process anything your team does, that’s a lot of wasted hours each month that could be regained by using a more efficient model (or even just having it serviced by an IT expert or a computer shop). Don’t forget you can buy discounted software for charities at Charity Digital Exchange.

Read the full NCVO report for a detailed overview of the questions you should ask inside your organisation in the year ahead.