I have just been reading the new strategy document for NAVCA. Firstly I must say that it’s good to see this document clearly articulate the organisation’s view for the future. Although like most of these types of document it’s big in bold statements but less clear on the details. Now as an organisation we are in an odd position. We have been considering membership for some time but this new document makes it very difficult to progress those thoughts.
The document lays out a set of principles for members, and I have difficulty with two of these:
- Committed not to operate in the territory of another NAVCA member without prior approval
Now we are based in the territory of another member, but we also work nationally. So does this mean that to continue to function and meet our charitable purpose, we need to get an agreement from all the other NAVCA members if we also wish membership? Ok I know it probably won’t operate like this, but it this doesn’t sit well with me.
- Committed to not competing with their members for funding or contracts
Ok I understand this, but let’s be fair and honest. NAVCA members are a disparate bunch. I have no doubt they all do good things, but they all do different things. So if a NAVCA member wants to branch out and take a contract in an area of work that they don’t currently deliver, does it mean that no other member can compete against them? Again not sure this sits well with me.
I obviously understand how we get to this place. Competitive tendering of contracts has made the landscape difficult for a number of years. But should a NAVCA member have a God-given right to deliver a service in a particular area just because they are a NAVCA member? Really this should be about the best organisation winning contracts for work. With the best will in the world organisations become complacent. They may have delivered a service for a number of years, but does it reach all the people it should? Is it delivered in a way and at a time that meets its users’ needs? The current VCS mood music is that competition is bad. I would suggest that some level is good, as it makes organisations look at themselves and perhaps ask the most difficult questions such as; “Is our organisation as good as it could be?” or even “Should we now close or merge to better meet the needs of our user group?”