The Charity Futures programme, led by Sir Stephen Bubb and funded by Woodford Investment Management, aims to improve the effectiveness of charities. OCF attended and presented at their event, which brought together representatives from the charity sector to understand challenges to its sustainability.
Charity Futures was launched in July 2016, when former ACEVO Chief Executive Sir Stephen Bubb was tasked by Woodford to lead a programme to improve the way charities are run. Sir Stephen had been vocal about the imperative for charities to bolster their governance and long-term planning in wake of the collapse of Kids Company earlier this year.
The event on 8th December brought together over 100 representatives from charities with whom Sir Stephen and Jonathan Smith, Woodford’s Head of CSR, have been working over the past year. The aim was to better understand the two key challenges identified by the Charity Futures programme: the need for investment in ‘back office’ costs for charities, enabling them to meaningfully support end beneficiaries; and the responsibility to continuously improve charity governance and leadership. It was argued that the latter challenge in particular presented a threat to the reputation of the charity sector, and therefore its potential to influence policy or have genuine impact on people’s lives. This is especially true in the context of recent news stories such as the British Heart Foundation/RSPCA wealth profiling exposé.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley spoke at the event to question why charities find collaboration such a challenge. She suggested that, just like pro tennis player Andy Murray, charities needed to surround themselves with a team that would help them excel – whether this be like-minded ambassadors, supporters, businesses or public sector bodies such as the police or local government. She argued that everyone had a “change the world muscle” that could be built up by drawing inspiration from their peers and collaborators.
The event also heard from Sir Tim Smit of The Eden Project, who encouraged charity representatives to embrace all opportunities to meet and network, creating chance meetings with the potential make progress happen in areas of mutual interest. “We’re all working on the side of angels”, he said, proposing that charities should enthusiastically promote positive stories of impact to counter the negative stories that more frequently appear in the media and public discourse.
The event concluded with the Charity Futures programme’s aspirations for the sector, summarised as less wastage, more impact and better results.