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Blog – Looking to the future at NCVO’s annual conference 2019

The Good Exchange team attended and exhibited at The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) annual conference, which took place in London on Monday 1st April.

The event, which was titled ‘Looking to the Future’, alluded to the ongoing challenges of such a turbulent political environment caused by continued Brexit uncertainty. The conference provided a platform to discuss ways to navigate these major changes and leverage tools to support forward-facing organisations.

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the NCVO, reflected on the history of NCVO in his final address before retirement, as 2019 marks 100 years since it was established. However, as he said, instead of focusing on the past, charitable organisations must look ahead into the future and adapt to the evolving landscape.

As expected, when discussing the future, Sir Stuart addressed the rising concerns around the current political instability in Britain. An important point made during his speech was the importance of a sustainable vision that the third sector must develop and embrace in light of these turbulent times, stating “we need a vision for our future; we are no longer the country we were, but we are not where we need to be”. We whole-heartedly agree with Sir Etherington’s statement that “investing in social and economic growth come hand in hand. We shouldn’t desire economic growth to have more of the same. [We should] aim for something qualitatively different, invest in people and the community.” He concluded with a powerful call to shift from old, outdated ways of thinking to embracing new ideas which would help us in “tomorrow’s fights”.

The new Chief Executive of Oxfam, Danny Sriskandarajah also took the stage at the Conference. In his keynote speech, Mr Sriskandarajah focused on the need to facilitate progressive internationalism. He continued by saying that if charities want to bring empowerment and equality to today’s world, they must make a conscious effort to move opportunity and responsibility into the 21st Century. In his conclusion, he expressed the need to make our sector more accessible and collaborative if we aim to create meaningful connections with the beneficiaries and communities we serve. Finally, he made the point that trust is the charitable sector’s core currency; it is hardest to earn and easiest to lose.

The current political and societal landscape prompts difficult questions about the third sector’s future. However, this isn’t to say that the future is all doom and gloom. We believe that pooling efforts and resources through efficient collaboration can prepare us for any challenges that tomorrow may bring.