The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Volunteering England have entered merger talks and could be one organisation by early 2013.
Formal discussions are due to commence this summer following agreement by both boards of trustees after a joint working party, which had been set up to review the options for working together, concluded that there was “a very strong case for a full merger”.
The working party consisted of two trustees from each organisation as well as Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England and Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of NCVO. It first met in March and reported to the board of NCVO on 29 May and Volunteering England on 21 June (today).
It recommended the merged organisation be called the National Council for Voluntary Organisations but retain the brands for Volunteering England and Institute for Volunteering Research (a joint initiative between Volunteering England and Birkbeck University London).
Changes to staffing, structure, and due diligence will be discussed over the summer and autumn with a target of merging by early 2013.
'Practising what we preach'
Martyn Lewis CBE, chair of trustees of NCVO, said: “The vision and values of NCVO and Volunteering England are closely aligned. We are a natural fit. We have encouraged the sector to consider mergers and collaboration, and we are practising what we preach.”
Sukhvinder Kaur-Stubbs, chair of trustees of Volunteering England, said: “The proposed merger will sustain our work as the voice of volunteering throughout our communities. It will strengthen the national infrastructure in supporting and representing our members, the volunteering movement and civil society.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO said: “By pooling our skills and experience we will create a stronger champion for voluntary action.”
Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England said he hoped the merger would “enable Volunteering England to strengthen our contributions in improving policy, volunteer management and the quality of the volunteer experience through research and professional expertise and through engaging with our members, particularly through the network of local Volunteer Centres.”
He added that he would be talking to members “on the practicalities of working together to ensure the cause of volunteering is represented as powerfully as it should be”.
Both organisations have been strategic partners of the Cabinet Office since April 2011 and are already based in the same building at Regent’s Wharf, along with Acevo. NCVO has 102 staff with an income of £10.1m and Volunteering England has 21 employees with an income of £5.5m.
At the end of 2010 Volunteering England announced plans to cut its number of employees from 55 to 24 as a result of potential cuts to its strategic funding from the Office of Civil Society.
In 2011 resource base KnowHow NonProfit was transferred from City University to NCVO.
NCVO formed in 1919 and is the largest voluntary sector umbrella body. Volunteering England is a charity and membership organisation that was formed in 2004 through a merger of the National Centre for Volunteering, Volunteer Development England and the Consortium on Opportunities for Volunteering, and in 2007 Student Volunteering England. It is currently responsible for a network of 263 volunteer centres in England.