Partner profile ACEVO – the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Vicky Browning – CEO, ACEVO

ACEVO exists to help chief executives in the voluntary and not for profit sector. It offers the chance to connect with peers, to share good practice and offer mutual support. Leadership development, coaching and mentoring help the chief executives it represents at every point of their career, while on the national stage ACEVO acts as an advocate of members’ interests.

But the aim of this is to improve the services delivered to the public.

“The whole thrust of what ACEVO does is to help leaders make the biggest difference they can,” says Vicky Browning, chief executive officer. “We enable them to be better leaders and lead more effectively. We amplify their voices in areas of influence, whether that is with national, regional or local government or the media.”

The future

ACEVO has just launched a three-year strategy focusing on five areas – inspiration, support, connections, advocacy and skills. “Charities and not for profit organisations are facing a lot of challenges on a number of fronts. Resources are going down, demands are going up – there is always a need to do more for less. We believe good leadership is a key part of this,” says Ms Browning. “We want to make sure that leaders are working effectively with their boards and teams.”

The impact the organisation can have is what matters, she says- “not just following the money. Charities have always had to be careful especially if they are using donors’ and taxpayers’ money; they are always very conscious that they are stewards of people’s money.”

Coming challenges include Brexit, which is adding to volatility and uncertainty for many in the sector, and could affect staffing. Many members are also thinking about how technology could affect the services they deliver, and enable them to do more with less. Another issue is attracting the right leadership when many younger people entering the workforce are agnostic about the sector they work in and some commercial companies present themselves as businesses with a social purpose. “We have to think about how we engage, attract and retain a new generation of people into this sector,” says Ms Browning.

Working with Hempsons

ACEVO has a long-term strategic partner relationship with Hempsons. “Hempsons specialises in many areas that civil society organisations deal with. They are an expert source of advice and information. They have always been at the forefront of where the law is,” says Ms Browning.

Hempsons works with specialist interest groups within ACEVO to help them navigate some of the tricky issues. One example of this is around the recent NHS pay deal for staff on Agenda for Change: funding is available for non-NHS bodies providing NHS services to match this rise but the criteria are very strict.

Another is the “sleep in” controversy where back pay for staff expected to spend nights at a client’s home but not necessarily to work all those hours could have cost charities millions. Although this has been overturned, it leaves many questions for charities, says Ms Browning. “Having good legal advice to pick your way through that sort of maze is really important,” she says. “Hempsons is also very strong on the legal aspects of mergers and collaboration. And we are about to do some work with Hempsons on advising our members about income diversification”.

“In the past charities were often reliant on one source of income. They can’t be absolutely sure that these income streams are going to be as consistent as they have been so they really need to think about diversification.“

What Hempsons offers

  • Hempsons will host two ACEVO health and social care workshops on 1 November 2018 and 26 March 2019. These will be linked to its regional offices by video conferencing.
  • ACEVO and Hempsons are jointly producing two health and social care newsletters.
  • Hempsons is offering two one-to-one surgery sessions for ACEVO members, with up to 10 slots for chief executives available at each. These will be either face to face with a Hempsons lawyer or via Skype or phone call, and will focus on legal and commercial topics.
  • ACEVO legal surgeries on income diversification will be run by Hempsons from 4-22 February 2019.

To find out more about membership of ACEVO and the activities above please email


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