Making Good: the future of the voluntary sector

6 October 2014

Civil Exchange to publish a book on the future of the voluntary sector

Civil Exchange today launches a debate about the future of the voluntary sector, Making Good (#making good).  Do join in.  Voluntary sector leaders and commentators are joining forces to generate wider discussion within the sector and beyond in the run-up to the next election.

A selection of articles from our forthcoming publication, Making Good: The Future of the Voluntary Sector, are being published in advance by Civil Society News and the Guardian Voluntary Sector network, starting today in Civil Society News with an essay by Professor Nicholas Deakin.

The full collection of essays, published by Civil Exchange with support from the Baring Foundation, will be published on 10 November and launched at a seminar that day.

The essays will be looking at tough questions, such as:

  • How can the sector avoid getting sucked into simply picking up the pieces, as the state cuts back its spending, or avoid simply becoming a delivery agent of public services that no longer work?
  • How can the sector retain its authentic voice and vital connection to local and disadvantaged communities, in a contract culture that can sometimes pull it away?
  • Is the familiar model of charity becoming outdated in the context of social and political change?
  • Are we measuring the right things?
  • Who is standing up for charities when times get tough?

The idea for these essays came from the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, which has called for a clearer understanding of what is important and distinctive about an independent voluntary sector. A debate on these fundamental issues could start to lay the foundations for a “new settlement” between the sector and key stakeholders, including the state, it believes.

The Panel will be hearing evidence from some essay contributors in a session open to the public on 9 October.

Caroline Slocock, Director of Civil Exchange and Head of the Secretariat to the Panel said:

“Many challenges and opportunities lie ahead. The state is seeking to do more with less and will continue to call on the voluntary sector to help. People are looking for new ways to shape their world beyond traditional politics. There is also significant social and technological change. And there are serious risks to the sector’s independence, as noted by the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector.

“The voluntary sector could be a hugely positive force – but only if it has a strong sense of its own mission, a clear understanding of where and how it can add real value and gets on to the front foot. Sector leaders are reflecting on these issues and opening up an important debate in these essays.”