NCVO launches scheme aimed at examining power and integrity in the voluntary sector

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is hosting a new initiative that aims to address issues relating to power and integrity in the voluntary sector.

The membership body hopes the scheme, called Power & Integrity, will become an independent organisation in the next two years.

Launching the initiative today, the NCVO said it hoped it would “enable more coherent, integrated and impactful approaches to organisational integrity in the voluntary sector”.

The NCVO said the initiative would explore how societal power structures underpinned negative organisational culture and behaviours, such as saviourism, sexism, racism, bullying and corruption.

It said it would also examine how organisations could embody integrity in both senses of the word: honest and accountable, and whole and unbroken.

The NCVO said all the work for the scheme was being carried out pro bono, but it was seeking funding to enable organisations to take part in a scoping exercise and for the long-term future of the initiative.

It said it would host the scheme for the next 12 to 18 months with the intention that the initiative would become its own independent not-for-profit organisation.

The NCVO said the first phase of the initiative would work with a pilot cohort of up to five organisations to “run power labs, conduct research and to test approaches”.

It said the Oak Foundation would enable organisations to take part at little or no cost and potential participants are being invited to get in touch if they would like to know more.

The NCVO also said the initiative would bring together organisations to understand how best to cultivate increased coherence in the sector about how power works and its relationship to organisational integrity. Lessons learned would be shared on an open source basis, it added.

The organisational integrity consultant Alex Cole-Hamilton, who is leading an independent group that will oversee the initial stages of the project, said: “Power & Integrity is an open-source initiative which aims to cultivate shared learning within the voluntary sector to understand and address the relationship between power and organisational integrity.

“However good our intentions, non-profit organisations reflect society’s deep inequalities. For years, nonprofits and others have analysed power to address societal inequalities. But we have failed to understand that inequality is reflected in our own organisations.

“By taking a holistic approach to understand and address how power manifests in our missions, strategies, culture and ways of working, we can reduce harm and work with more integrity.”

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