Blog – The Good Exchange reports back from the 2018 NCVO Conference

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (NCVO) Annual Conference took place in central London this Monday. We were delighted to be selected as the event’s official digital partner for 2018, and The Good Exchange team was on hand to showcase our innovative digital matching platform to the attendees. We even ran a prize draw for a fee free fundraising project – watch this space for more details about the winner!

Meanwhile at the Conference, Baroness Stowell, the new Chair of the Charity Commission, set out a new strategy which aims to help “rebuild trust in charities”. This follows what has undoubtedly been a difficult year for the third sector in the wake of the Oxfam and Save the Children scandals, as notable examples. Ultimately, any loss in public trust in charities and charitable giving is to the detriment of the sector as a whole, which makes it more important than ever for us all to work together to introduce greater transparency and accountability.

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the NCVO, also acknowledged the challenges faced by the industry and spoke about the need to bring people and communities together to help address some of the big challenges we face as a society today, from housing, poverty and inequality, to social isolation. As Etherington himself noted, often the most challenging and changing times provide the best opportunities to look ahead.

Today’s era of online platforms provides the means to unite those with money to give to good causes to those who need it most. Used effectively, technology can also level the playing field by streamlining and overhauling the inefficiencies of existing processes, ensuring that smaller charities operating on minimal resources can compete for funding with the big national players.

At the end of the day, ‘reluctant futurist’ Mark Stevenson, the author of two bestselling books, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future and the award-winning We Do Things Differently gave an entertaining but thought-provoking presentation about the role of the third -sector in a world that is undergoing a technological revolution.

His view was that in 20 years from now, everyone will have access to low-cost, carbon-free energy, 3D printing for medicines (and even body parts) so we will age but not be ill or infirm.  In this world, Blockchain technology (not Bitcoin) will transform financial transactions and wealth can be used differently to help others through the charitable sector.

But, he asked, how will the old-fashioned charity sector adapt?  Many charities are reactive and reluctant to change but they need to start to look outside and think unthinkable ideas – about participation, getting people involved, collaborating and being bold.

While technology has transformed the private sector, and the way in which we all live and work, the third sector has been slow to evolve thus far. Those responsible for managing charitable funding must now embrace digital to take advantage of efficiently gains, greater transparency and collaboration, which will help to foster public trust and ensure the sector is actively tackling the issues of the day at both a local and national level, ultimately encouraging more charitable giving into the bargain.

Best quote for me from the day – The stone age did not end for the lack of stone and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil.