Navca has opened talks with NCVO, ACRE, Urban Forum and Volunteering England regarding potential collaborations and even possibly a full merger.
The national umbrella body for local Councils for Voluntary Service has initiated the talks in light of the prospect of drastic public spending cuts decimating its income.
Chief executive Kevin Curley (pictured) told Civil Society he did not expect that Navca would end up in a full merger with any of the other bodies, but all options were being considered “in case it becomes necessary in the future”.
More likely, he said, were collaborations with one or more of the organisations such as the sharing of back-office functions. And any changes would not happen immediately but in the 2010/11 financial year.
Curley said he had decided to be open about the talks because he wanted to lead by example. The inevitable pressures on funding and the divisive impact of competitive tendering should prompt more organisations to examine the benefits of collaborations and mergers, he said.
Therefore, he is also advising other infrastructure bodies, including volunteer centres and community accountancy projects, and support bodies for ethnic minority or disability groups, to investigate the efficiencies that might be achieved by merger.
In a hard-hitting speech entitled Rationalising local support and development organisations: Some radical proposals, which Curley delivered to two conferences recently, he said that a minimum of £150,000 core funding is needed in unitary areas and £250,000 in counties, and that these levels of funding cannot be expected to continue.
“After five years of ChangeUp we can see that we have failed to rationalise local support and development organisations. The economic downturn and the prospect of severe public expenditure cuts should encourage us now to ask very searching questions of ourselves.
“Everyone has the right to establish separate charities. We do not have the right though to expect the local state to fund us.
“As local budgets shrink the days of separate support and development charities for black groups, youth groups and disability groups must be numbered,” Curley said.
At their last meeting, Navca’s trustees agreed to endorse the speech as a discussion document in order to engender debate.