VSSN’s Strategic Review 2023

Christopher Damm |

Every so often, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network’s Trustee Board undertakes a review of our organisation’s strategy. This includes going back to first principles: looking at our charitable objectives and assessing how best to meet them, to serve our members and the wider voluntary sector and associated research communities. At the start of 2023, with the election and appointment of a new leadership team, alongside our transition to a CIO, we decided it was worth renewing our strategic priorities, alongside codifying the VSSN’s mission and values.

Over the past few months, the trustee board have worked to develop the below values, strategy, and actions, alongside continuing to run our events and grants programmes. While this is an evolution of our work rather than a revolution, we are pleased to say we plan to focus on the following strategic aims in the forthcoming years:

  • Supporting the career development of researchers looking at voluntary sector and volunteering research
  • Facilitating knowledge exchange across research, policy, and practice
  • Enhancing opportunities for inclusive networking, peer support and collaboration
  • Encouraging research on the voluntary sector & volunteering across disciplinary & geographical boundaries
  • Strengthening the links, communication and collaborations between researchers, voluntary sector practitioners and policy actors

Especially important to VSSN is making sure our work and actions fulfil our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion policy, and its principles are central to all of our work. While this work is never complete, we are pleased to present below an updated strategic document, that outlines the activities and actions identified to deliver on these aims. Our teams of volunteers, within the VSSN trustee board, the VSR editorial management board, and our wider circle of volunteers, will work hard to make these happen. We will hold ourselves accountable to our strategic plan through six-monthly reviews, and updates in our Annual Report and at our AGM.

All this work exists because of the work of our members, supported by membership fees and the surplus we make from our events. It is because of our members and the hard work of volunteers that we can continue the work of VSSN. For this, as a supportive community of practice, we are very grateful. We look forward to discussing VSSN’s role, mission, and strategy with members and non-members at upcoming events, particularly our conference in September.

We welcome any feedback on this work from all VSSN members. Full details of our strategic refresh will be included in our Annual Report in the autumn.

VSSN Values

The values of VSSN underpin the networks ways of working and how we want our people to behave and interact. These values include being collaborative, inquisitive, supportive and inclusive.

  • We are collaborative – we look to build relationships by bring together a wide range of individuals and strengthen collaborations across our stakeholders
  • We are inquisitive – we are interested in promoting relevant and new insights from current research on the voluntary sector and volunteering
  • We are supportive – we offer support that aims to enable and encourage individuals
  • We are inclusive – we work in a way that is respectful, accessible and relational to facilitate individuals sharing their voice and encourage diversity

A diagram showing the VSSN strategy in the form of a flowchart