Saturday, 10 January 2009

A frosty outlook !

Charlbury was presenting itself in all its glory this morning. I had taken the Hound Dog out for the early morning ablutions run in the fields around the cemetery . The trees and hedgerows were covered in frost ; a stunning vista , eerily silvern and atmospheric. This is where I intend to be buried , and I think its always refreshing to be reminded that even a Bubb does not last forever . So you need to make your impact while you can .

Polly Tonybee has written a superb piece in today's Guardian . It is a strong and pertinent warning that charity and philanthropy can never replace the welfare state Whilst third sector organisations will increasingly deliver services , the State must fund these. We can never return to a reliance on philanthropy. It is a particular warning to the Opposition , who see a bigger role for our sector. But they must ensure that it is paid for . It would be tempting for a Conservative Government intent on massive spending cuts to assume that they can cut sector funding and rely on philanthropy to fill the gap .We must warn them that this would risk disaster. And lets be clear ; this must be a warning to Labour too. As Polly says ,

" As donors turn off the taps in a recession , what a disaster if the welfare state were seriously dependent on haphazard generosity ".

And I liked her paean of praise for the sector.

" The randomness of charity is part of its charm,adding to the rich texture of society. How bleak were communist societies with no charitable tradition , no volunteering, no civil society. How desperate life would be without the impulse to give or volunteer-from raffles to sponsored runs,fetes to balls,tin rattling poppy sellers to hospital friends trolleys- for good or eccentric causes "

She also draws attention to a recent report from the Centre for Charitable giving . They are saying stories of donations decline are alarmist and risk becoming self-fulfilling . I really think this is both a nonsense and damaging to what we are trying to achieve . The picture at the moment is patchy , but it is clear some charities are feeling the effect of falling support ; clearly the picture will vary charity to charity . But we know from previous recessions that it takes time for the full effects to come through for charities . CAF research shows this.If this recession is a deep and lasting one ; people now talk of at least 2 years , there can be no doubt that giving will decline , the value of gifts will decline at the same time as demand for our services grows. And we will then face the effects of public spending cuts.Not to point out the dangers , not to warn the sector to prepare would be a dereliction of duty .

Leadership is about warning of future and present danger , arguing for support for those we help , not taking a Canute like, " I see no waves " approach . When ACEVO first raised the alarm ( and we were the first sector body to do so ) I read reports about how we were being alarmist , how our calls for support were gimmicks. As the recession unfolds I think we see that ACEVO's leadership has been prescient and important as we demand Government action and ask the public to continue to give and to volunteer. Leadership is surely about being ahead of the game ? Better to prepare for the worst whilst hoping for the best . And continuing to believe in the strength and determination of our sector's leaders to pull through .

1 comment:

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