New membership scheme to tackle ‘false dichotomy’ between generic and specialist voluntary sectors

New membership scheme to tackle ‘false dichotomy’ between generic and specialist voluntary sectors

3 March 2011

For the first time in the history of the voluntary and community sector (VCS), generic and specialist organisations have come together to pioneer a collaborative membership venture. The Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) support organisation Voice4Change England (V4CE) have brought together two leading generic support organisations, NCVO and Community Matters, to reach the unmet needs of BME voluntary and community organisations.

As competition for resources tightens, the needs of small, less well resourced voluntary and community groups can be overlooked. Policy makers and funders can favour larger, better established generic providers in a ‘one size fits’ all approach.

But now V4CE is pioneering a new venture that will tackle what they see as a ‘false dichotomy’ between the specialist and generic VCS. The collaboration fuses the strengths of specialist and generic infrastructure, to resource and support organisations who the generic sector often fail to reach.

Vandna Gohil, Director of Voice4Change England says: “This membership programme marks a ground breaking step for VCS collaboration. It plays to the strengths of all four partner organisations and proves what can be achieved through fruitful, equitable partnership.

Specialist infrastructure should maintain its independent policy voice, but by brokering stronger relationships between BME VCOs and generic infrastructure, this unique membership scheme provides strategic support and avoids any duplication of services.

We know that generic services do not reach certain organisations on the margins. Out of this sprang the need for specialist infrastructure. To create a society where the needs of all communities are met, we need support and funding for both generic and specialist services.

But we believe in a VCS where specialist and generic organisations are not in competition but collaborate and complement one another to share their strengths and improve services for their beneficiaries. I am pleased to be launching a programme that responds innovatively and efficiently to the needs of BME VCOs.

We are calling on the public, private and generic voluntary and community sectors to seek more collaboration with BME VCOS where they are recognised as equitable partners.”

Organisations will be supported and resourced to boost their capacity, strengthen their voice to policy makers and build their resilience in a fraught economic environment. They will also gain entry to an exclusive networking space for collaboration and peer mentoring.

Charity Builder have joined the collaboration and added to the membership programme free, interactive tools in vital areas like HR and health and safety.

Gillen Knight, Head of Marketing and Membership at NCVO says: “I am proud that NCVO is working in collaboration with V4CE, bringing together leading national support organisations and reaching thousands of BAME organisations that would otherwise not receive the support and resources that we can both offer. This relationship will allow us to provide these members with the specialist knowledge of V4CE and NCVO’s national perspective”

David Tyler, CEO at Community Matters says: “Our expertise in the management of community organisations and community buildings has proven invaluable to our members and we look forward to working with BME organisations who share our vision of a national network of grassroots community action”.



Notes to Editor

About Voice4Change England

Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a national support organisation for the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Since 2007 we have operated as a strategic partner of the Office for Civil Society. We are a leading voice in public policy and inform and influence practice that has a direct affect on the development, delivery and impact of BME voluntary and community organisations (VCOs). We support the sector to build its capacity and secure resources to meet the needs of vulnerable and excluded communities.

Our mission at V4CE is to ensure public policy meets the needs of BME communities by valuing and supporting BME VCOs to challenge inequality and strengthen civil society.

About NCVO

NCVO is the largest umbrella body and membership association for the voluntary sector in England. They have been helping voluntary organisations for over 90 years and count over 8,400 organisations as members. Through a special partnership with V4CE, they are offering a 20% discount to all eligible V4CE members.

About Community Matters

Community Matters champions voluntary and community action at neighbourhood level through:

• Membership, by creating a national network of community organisations and activists who share our vision and support our aims

• Services, by delivering low-cost practical support via in-house expertise or specialist programmes

• Campaigning, by building a comprehensive programme of external affairs work covering policy, parliamentary affairs, communications and research work.

About Charity Builder UK

Charity Builder is owned and funded by Tennyson Insurance, the charity insurance experts. Rather than spend money on advertising Tennyson decided to use their marketing budget to do good and three months later Charity Builder was born, one year on it now has 1,200 users.


For more information please visit the membership pages or contact the Membership Programme Manager, Nandini Das on 020 7843 6131.

Voice4Change England registered charity number 1140624