NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), England’s largest membership organisation for the voluntary sector, has announced that Sarah Vibert has been appointed as its CEO. Sarah will take up the role with immediate effect.
Sarah has been interim CEO at NCVO since January 2021. She was previously Director of Public Policy and Volunteering after joining the charity umbrella body in January 2020, just before the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Before joining NCVO, Sarah was CEO of The Neurological Alliance and has worked in senior roles at other organisations including the Epilepsy Society, The Prince’s Charities, and the Greater London Authority. Sarah volunteers regularly outside of her role at NCVO, including as a trustee of the Brain & Spine Foundation.
The announcement comes after a rigorous four-month recruitment process where over 200 candidates applied for the role. Recruitment was managed by NCVO’s external recruitment partner, executive search specialists Saxton Bampfylde. The process was led by NCVO’s chair of trustees, Dr Priya Singh, with support from other trustees, independent sector leaders, and representatives from NCVO’s staff and 17,000+ strong charity membership.
Announcing the appointment, Dr Priya Singh, chair of NCVO’s board of trustees, said:
“I am very pleased to welcome Sarah into her new role as CEO. In a fantastic field, she impressed, challenged and inspired all those involved in the process, presenting a clear and compelling vision for the future of NCVO and our work to support members and our sector.
“The board’s unanimous decision to appoint Sarah comes after a rigorous four-month recruitment process where we engaged a diverse, experienced and inspiring set of candidates. I’m proud that the shortlisting and interview process were inclusive, involving representatives from NCVO members and staff, and enabled diverse perspectives and collective decision making. I would like to thank all those involved in the process for volunteering their time and providing such useful feedback on candidates.
“In welcoming Sarah as CEO, the trustees and I would like to thank her for her achievements as interim CEO. These include the progress we have made towards building our culture at NCVO, members remaining core to the decisions we take and the priorities we set, and the ways we work in effective partnership with others in the sector to influence and advocate for charities and volunteering.”
Sarah Vibert said on her appointment as NCVO CEO:
“I am honoured that the trustees, members and staff involved in the process have put their trust and confidence in me as NCVO’s CEO. I have spent my career working and volunteering in charities, and wholeheartedly believe voluntary organisations and volunteers play a vital role in our society.
“NCVO has held a unique place in the voluntary sector for over 100 years. That place has had to be earned and NCVO has continually evolved to anticipate and respond to changes in society. Today is no different. We must continue to adapt to support members to meet the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, inequality, conflict and the climate crisis.
“I am hugely excited to have the opportunity to build on the work the team has undertaken over the past year to reinvent NCVO’s relationships with members, staff and the wider sector. For members, the NCVO I lead will always listen, respond and enable you to come together as a community. We will clear a path in the external environment to make it easier for you to do your vital work supporting people and communities, and we will stand alongside you in championing the role of voluntary organisations and volunteers.
“For our staff team, under my leadership NCVO will continue the work to empower and support you to thrive at work, and inspire you with a vision for what we are achieving for members and wider society.
“For partners who share this vision, I will ensure that NCVO will be a generous, collaborative leader in the sector and beyond, focused on how together we can create a strong, fair and connected society.”
Akiko Hart, CEO of the NSUN (National Survivor User Network) and a representative on the member recruitment panel, said:
“At the heart of Sarah’s vision for NCVO, and the sector she understands and loves, is equity. She demonstrates this through her authentic and collaborative leadership, as well as her values-driven approach which shines through all her work. She advocates for the voluntary sector and the communities we come from, and serves with authority, intelligence, and passion.
“Sarah understands the many challenges the sector and NCVO face, and has addressed them with courage and conviction. She sees where, as a sector, we sometimes fall short of the values we defend, but she also believes in the work we do, and understands why we do it. I came away from the process with a sense of warmth, clarity and hope, all of which are woven into her work and leadership.”
Jason Stamp, chief officer at Forum and a representative on the member recruitment panel, said:
“Sarah shared an exciting new vision, including using NCVO’s position to create greater connections between members of all sizes and locations so we are stronger together, sharing learning, support and innovation. She identified future opportunities for our sector and was clear about the need to build on the key legacies from the pandemic, like strong collaboration and partnership.
“Sarah was also clear that the appointment of a new permanent CEO offers a chance for NCVO to think and work differently – including by further involving members in decision making – and to encourage new ways of working throughout the sector, such as greater inclusivity.”
Crewenna Dymond, director of volunteering and partnerships at CPRE and an independent member of NCVO’s governance and nominations board committee, said:
“During her interview Sarah showed great passion and commitment to NCVO, representing the sector and supporting charities whether large or small. I believe Sarah’s collaborative approach will help to unite people to work together for the social and environmental outcomes we all strive for.
“During the robust appointment process, I met with some extremely impressive and inspirational people who were so supportive of NCVO’s work and I’d like to thank them for the time we spent together.”
Vicky Browning, CEO of ACEVO said: “In just over 13 months as NCVO’s interim CEO, Sarah has shown bold, authentic, collaborative and generous leadership. I am delighted for NCVO and civil society as a whole that Sarah will continue to lead this vital organisation as we grapple with the challenges ahead.”