Branches are led by volunteers and offer local parents and parents-to-be invaluable support, services and NCT events.
Branches are the local FACE of the NCT and there are lots of ways of being Fun, Accessible, Caring and Encouraging. Your ability to reflect these values in your local community is a great strength for the charity but as a new, small branch, rebuilding your volunteer team, then you will not be able to provide the full range of services that the NCT can offer, as well as join in on all the campaigns, as well as promote membership, as well fundraise as well as………as well as ……, so what’s a branch to choose?
Run parent-to-parent events – open houses in members’ homes and/or bumps and babies drop-ins in a community venue. The most usual reason parents give for joining the NCT is they want to make friends, so it is important you have events that enable people to make friends. Make sure your PSA (the staff member who deals with Antenatal course bookings) has details for these for enquirers and those booked on courses.
Encourage membership – the more members you have locally, the more people you have to mention their involvement in the NCT and to run and provide local services.
Run fundraising events to pay your local branch expenses and contribute to the running of the NCT. These can often help volunteers and members to bond through working together, while also publicising your branch.
Produce some sort of branch newsletter, even a one-sheet newsletter or a small eNewsletter will be a much-appreciated service for your members and helps you to recruit. It lets people know where they can go to meet people and make friends.
Attend volunteer training days for training workshops and networking with other branch volunteers for support and ideas for growing your branch.
The Minimum plus
Run more bumps and babies groups so parent’s right across your branch area can get along – perhaps you can apply for a grant to help you offer a new or extended service.
Try a Speed Bumps event for parents-to-be to get them involved earlier.
Run more fundraising events – have you tried an NCT Nearly New Sale to offer good quality nearly new baby clothes and equipment? A great way of raising money for things such as the helplines.
See if you can find someone to represent the NCT on local groups such as the Maternity Series Liaison Committee (MSLC) and to build a relationship with healthcare professionals. This person can start to influence the way your local services work and can encourage healthcare professionals to recommend the NCT.
Have very effective systems for recruiting and retaining members.
Have a network of events both in homes and in other venues across your branch patch where parents can get together and make friends.
Have enough fundraising events to run your branch and contribute to UK-wide projects.
Have a range of parent-to-parent services e.g. fathers’ group, home birth support group, caesarean group, working parents group, single parents’ group.
Have a good range of local branch materials, e.g. newsletter, branch leaflet.
Gold Standard Service
Introduce effective outreach to ensure parents who would be less likely to use NCT services have the opportunity to benefit e.g. young parents, travellers, asylum seekers, those in the very poorest areas, perhaps by working in partnership with Sure Start/Children’s centres.
Raise sufficient funds to support your branch and to be able to support the UK-wide services such as the website, helplines and eMatters magazine which help the charity reach so many parents-to-be and new parents.
Be recommended by the majority of local healthcare workers who recognize the NCT’s benefits for their whole range of clients.
Generate new services, fundraising and other ideas within the remit of the NCT to help move our charity forward.
Share good practice with other branches at volunteer training days, at conference or in NCT publications.