NCVO announces Karl Wilding as new chief executive 

13 Jun 2019 News

Karl Wilding

NCVO has announced that Karl Wilding has been promoted to chief executive and will take over from Sir Stuart Etherington in the autumn. 

Wilding is currently director of public policy and volunteering at NCVO and will take up the new post in mid-September when Etherington retires. 

Etherington announced plans to retire earlier this year, after leading NCVO for 25 years. The recruitment process was managed by executive search firm Green Park and involved three rounds of interviews before the appointment was approved by NCVO’s board.

Green Park identified over 200 candidates and spoke to charity leaders about what they felt are important qualities for the new chief executive. 

Wilding joined NCVO in 1998, becoming head of research in 2001, head of policy and research in 2011, director of public policy in 2013, and director of public policy and volunteering in 2016.

Outside of NCVO he is an adviser to Charity Bank; a trustee of US voluntary organisation Creating the Future; a trustee of Communities 1st, a membership body for the voluntary sector in St Albans; and a regular parkrun volunteer.

‘We need to adapt to change’ 

Peter Kellner, chair of NCVO, said: “When we embarked on the recruitment process we knew NCVO needed to adapt to big changes in the charity sector and civil society more widely. We set out to find the person who could best meet these challenges and provide a new direction for NCVO. Karl’s awareness of these challenges and his strategy for change were compelling.

“Karl is a strong communicator with a sharp strategic focus, and he has an instinctive understanding of both the complexities within the voluntary sector and the values that unify it. His experience as a voluntary sector leader, a trustee and a volunteer give him a holistic view of what charities and volunteering need for the future.

“As head of research, Karl made NCVO’s research on charity finances the standard for rigour and reliability, and as director of policy and volunteering he has been a high-profile and effective advocate for the voluntary sector and volunteering.

“On behalf of NCVO, I’d like to thank the hundreds of people across the sector and beyond who have fed in to this very comprehensive search process by sharing their views on the important qualities for our next chief executive.”

Julia Unwin, who was an independent member of the first interview panel, added: “Society is changing rapidly, and so is civil society. There are new expectations of accountability, inclusiveness and responsiveness. Civil society organisations that adapt will thrive in this new environment. 

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to appoint someone with a deep understanding of these changes and who can help NCVO support the many people who want to re-energise and renew civil society.”

‘I want to stand up for charities’ 

Wilding said he wanted NCVO and its members to be at the forefront of ensuring that sector maintains its relevance in society and plays a leading role in the years to come.

He said: “I’m excited and humbled to have been asked to lead the new NCVO. Charities and volunteering change people’s lives. As the chief executive of a re-purposed NCVO I want to stand up for the charities and millions of people who every day make a difference to the causes that they believe in. 

“I want to work alongside NCVO’s members to show what is best about charities and volunteering, and to share that far and wide. If you want to change the world, charities and volunteering are the best way to make a difference.

“I’m very clear that we can’t stand still. The world has changed. People have more choices than ever when it comes to getting involved in a cause. I want NCVO and its members to lead the changes we need to remain relevant, important and influential even as society changes.

“NCVO’s biggest asset is our members, so I will focus on listening to and learning from the many incredible charities and volunteers that I meet every day. Together, we’ll develop a much sharper focus on what matters to the British public. We’ll move faster for the digital age. And together we’ll reflect the rich diversity that characterises modern Britain. The work of charities and people who volunteer has never been more needed – I can’t wait to help NCVO tell their story.”

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