As I slowly tore myself away from NCVO earlier this year, one of my final acts was to encourage the new leadership team to write user manuals for each other. I think they’re a great tool for teams because they reveal how we’re each different, and prompt us to consider how to work with and support others so that we can all do our best work.

I first wrote a user manual for me in October 2019. Reading it again now has been interesting! It starts with the sentence:

I like to work in the office

And later on, in…


Today I leave NCVO after 18 years. I was 24 when I joined. Since then I’ve gotten married and had two children. I’ve grown up in this organisation.

So many thoughts have been running through my head, so (because a friend said it was a good idea!) here are my buzzfeed-esque 1+8 reflections on leaving after 18 years (because 18 was too many)!

1. Change feels slow when you’re in it, but looking back gives a different perspective

I get my energy from thinking about how things can be better, and then making it happen. Change is hard, and it’s slow, and when you’re in it you wonder if it’s happening at all. But you…


Late last year at NCVO we were considering hiring a developer for the first time. If you’re interested in why we thought it might be a good idea, and why we thought it might be the right time, have a read of my previous post.

We wanted to take some time to think carefully about whether this is the right thing to do, and learn about how to do it well. With help from the fantastic Nissa Ramsay of Think Social Tech, we set out to interview developers to learn from their experiences. …


In my last post I reflected on how the field of digital had changed over the last 9 years, from when it was about websites and emails, through the emergence of ‘digital’ and to today, when there are many discussions about whether ‘digital’ is even what we should be interested in anymore.

If it’s not about digital though, what might be a good starting point when thinking about making a difference in ‘the Internet-era’?

Over recent months, I seem to have been reading more and more about service design.

Most of the stuff I read comes to me via twitter…


As we start a new decade, lots of people are looking back. In this post I share how I saw conversations about ‘digital’ changing over the last decade, and where we are now.

Looking back: the emergence of ‘digital’

Ten years ago I was on maternity leave with a newborn. When I returned from maternity leave I got a job as NCVO’s Head of Communications — a team which included roles managing our websites and email newsletters. ‘Digital’ as a field had not yet emerged.

It’s been fascinating working in this area over the last 9 years…

I remember first hearing about ‘agile’. A new recruit…


At NCVO, we’re considering hiring a developer for the first time.

That feels a bit scary. But it also feels exciting. We want to take some time to think carefully about whether this is the right thing to do, and learn about how to do it well. In this post I’m going to share our thinking, what we are hoping to learn, and how.

If you’re reading this and you are a developer working in a charity, especially if you are the only developer hired by the organisation, we’d love to talk! (my contact details are at the bottom).

Why hire a developer?

If…


Since December I’ve been sharing our experience of developing a new digital strategy at NCVO, through mapping our digital ecology, learning about user needs and behaviours, developing a vision for a radical new technical architecture, and crafting a compelling business case.

After NCVO’s trustee board approved our strategy the hard work really began. As we started to think about how to turn our high level vision into a reality, our minds quickly turned to how to find the right partners.

In this post I want to share how we went about finding and selecting the fantastic organisations we’re now working…


Since December I’ve been sharing our experience of developing a new digital strategy at NCVO, through mapping our digital ecology, learning about user needs and behaviours, and developing a vision for a radical new technical architecture.

We’re nearly at the end of this particular story. In this post I want to talk about how I took everything we’d learned and turned it into a business case that convinced NCVO’s board to invest financially and my colleagues across NCVO’s leadership and management teams to get behind our vision and roadmap.

When is a digital strategy needed?

Earlier this year I was asked to speak at a conference…


The last post in this series about NCVO’s technology strategy started to describe an emerging vision for a future technical architecture — a leaner system that allows us to scale our impact in a sustainable way.

In this post I want to dig deeper into the centrepiece of that vision — what we’re calling NCVO’s front controller.

What is the front controller?

First, a fairly technical description…

The front controller is an application which will marshal requests to appropriate underlying applications, providing a single place to control the delivery of user interface elements, handling caching, authentication and the restriction of membership content.

(I’m happy to…


There’s a theme that runs through most events you’ll attend or pieces you’ll read about digital leadership or digital transformation. It tends to go something like this:

Digital is not about technology. It’s about people.

I wholeheartedly agree. Technology on its own achieves nothing. What matters is how people use it. And that’s why successful digital leaders and change programmes focus on culture, behaviours, skills and confidence. This was the focus of NCVO’s digital strategy between 2014 and 2016, when we did things like launch our internal digital skills programme. …

Megan Gray

Strategy, digital and change consultant working with UK charities and social sector organisations

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