Back to the Future – what is in store for the voluntary sector?

Back to the Future – what is in store for the voluntary sector?

On 25 November 2021, Voluntary Action Reigate & Banstead were joined by a range of voluntary and public sector organisations for a scan of the big issues and opportunities coming over the horizon.

This was part of our AGM event “Back to the Future”. Below are some of the papers and feedback received at the event. We hope these will provide some food for thought. With many thanks to our speakers from Skylark Charity Support Network, Climate Action Reigate & Redhill and Surrey County Council Insights Team and all participating organisations.

Why horizon scanning is important

Skylark highlighted the importance of taking time to look beyond the current internal challenges facing your organisation. This is a key role for trustees and the management team. Understanding the external/ future context in which your charity operates is important because:
  • It will increase your resilience
  • Donors, funders, commissioners and partners want to see that you understand the local and national context you operate in
  • You will be better placed to respond to key challenges and opportunities

What are the Key Issues coming up?

Top Issues identified by organisations attending “Back to the Future”:

The three most common issues identified through the Menti poll were:

  • Funding – a perennial issue for the voluntary sector. Comments included fewer resources available from local and national government; increased time spent on chasing funding and the challenges of meeting increased demand with reduced access to funds.
  • Shortage of skilled staff and volunteers – Comments included recruiting enough skilled people to meet demand, especially in the care sector and those with digital skills; increased demand for volunteers and volunteer commitment.
  • Increased welfare need – Comments included increasing numbers of families on low income; food and fuel poverty and increased housing need.

Thoughts from the VARB Team and our Core Funders:

Other presentations:

How can I decide which of these issues is important for my organisation?

Skylark suggested using a “Charity Model” as a framework to ensure you consider all aspects of the way key issues could impact your charity. In brief, this involves looking at:

  • INPUTS – what does you organisation need in order to function e.g. staff, volunteers, funding, premises
  • SERVICE DELIVERY – the way you do things e.g. systems, partners, collaboration
  • BENEFICIARIES – who/what you are helping e.g. is demand increasing/ changing in other ways

And finally……

Thinking about how future issues will impact your organisation can be daunting. However, it is only by considering what the future may hold that you can actively prepare for it and become more resilient.

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Skylark, VARB AGM, 25 November 2021