Working with NCVO

We helped NCVO review their digital estate

NCVO champions the voluntary sector by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary organisations. They work to help voluntary organisations and volunteers make the biggest difference they can. They currently support over 13,000 member organisations – a third of the voluntary sector workforce in England.


As part of NCVO’s digital strategy review, CAST were asked to help plan and conduct a user-centred review of NCVO’s current digital estate. They needed to understand usage patterns and user needs to inform their digital strategy and budgetary allocation from 2018.

This work consisted of four parts:

  • A series of research interviews with their core audience at different organisational levels from across the sector;
  • A CRM data and web analytics deep-dive to understand usage and engagement of current sites and services;
  • A review of the current digital ecology from a systems integration perspective to understand dependencies and breadth of platforms currently used; and
  • A review of the current technology platforms from a technical architecture perspective.


Over 16 weeks we supported the core digital comms. team to plan and conduct a range of research, analysis and testing activities.

We supported in conducting 6 one hour interviews with NCVO members and non-members. The synthesis from these interview led to the development of a range of crude prototypes for new services and features. Theses were guerrilla tested at the NCVO trustee conference and with a further 6 target users in one hour depth interviews. An edited talking-heads video of these interviews was distributed to teams and has helped embed the needs of the users in projects across the organisation.

We deployed a data scientist on their CRM and analytics data to understand actual numbers around digital engagement and usage. The questions we posed were based on some of the insights from the user interviews. For example: how did what we’d found in the interviews reflect across the entire user base for a calendar year?

We developed a digital ecology diagram outlining all the user facing and backend systems, platforms and integrations. In its initial incarnation this was over 6 feet long and placed prominently in the office space. This provoked responses and interest from across the organisation.

Working with a highly experienced technical architect who has worked in online news media, government and online gaming, we reviewed their technology architecture. He made strategic recommendations around technology choices, hosting infrastructure, data security and integrations.


The outputs of our work to date have been replayed to teams from across the organisation.

In early 2018, the NCVO Board approved the digital strategy that this work informed. They have committed to embedding user-centred design and lean/agile development and the strategy outlines the ‘discover, define, develop’ approach they will use going forward.

We’ve formed a very strong working relationship with NCVO and continue to assist as consultants on various aspects of their digital strategy work.

Megan Griffith Gray, Head of Planning, Digital and Communications, NCVO, said, “We worked with CAST in 2017 on a user-centred review of our digital products and services. It was a fantastic experience! Together we mapped out what we knew, and needed to know, about our users and their needs. We then conducted user interviews, analysed data, and developed, tested, iterated and re-tested prototypes. We emerged with a clear understanding of user behaviour and needs which has informed our future strategy. Along the way I felt supported, challenged and inspired. My team got to try out guerrilla testing for the first time at one of our conferences and CAST ran two user research playback sessions with me for colleagues, that were very well received.”

“I love working with the amazing team at CAST and we already have some more projects underway, including training and support to embed user research, and a planned workshop for the entire NCVO team!”