Monday, 13 October 2008

Talking to bankers

A great meeting this morning with CCLA , the biggest investment banker to the sector. They have 45000 clients in the charity sector and importantly , they are a mutual . So they are part of our sector. Michael Quicke , the Chief Executive is a member and the splendid Andrew Robinson is one of their key advisers ( not sure what his title is , you know what they are like! ).

We do a lot with them ; for example they sponsored and hosted our recent Governance review. So we were there to chew over the recent developments and to consider how we both help provide support and advice to the sector . It is clear that acevo now needs to review its plans for events and publications for next year and we agree that providing sound advice to third sector bodies in preparing their budgets for next year and reviewing their business and strategic plans is crucial given changed circumstances.

In this crisis the lead sector bodies need to work together and so Stuart Etherington ( ncvo ) and I have been in touch on issues . Stuart has called a summit to discuss how to move forward. And we are working with ncvo , the Charities Aid Foundation and the Finance Director's group to compile a full list of the losses from the Icelandic banks. By mid day our tally was up at £60ml from 20 charities , but much more is to come.

I'm glad to say the press are still interested in our story , and I try to steer them onto the need for an emergency package of support in advance of my meeting with Liam and Kevin . I point out that the Charities Aid Foundation estimate that £700 ml lies around in HMT in unclaimed gift aid . And I push home the point on higher rate tax earners. Lets see if we can get action from Government on this. We have an opportunity . Lets use it . Stuart will be seeing them this week too , so we will be pushing the message home that support is needed . And it is a longer term project , as the Summit in November Stuart has called, will discuss .

I also put the finishing touches to an article for The Guardian . It will be provocative . And set out a challenge for Government . Read it Wednesday .

An amusing interlude as I rush from meeting to meeting ; I get an email from a good friend Keith Smith , who works for Compass , the sector consultants . His partner is Barbara Frost , who is CEO of WaterAid and a very effective former Vice Chair of acevo . They live in Marston Biggot , which also happens to be the last resting place of my Great Great Great Grandparents , George and Elizabeth Chambers. Its a gorgeous part of the country ; just outside Frome in Somerset. I have stayed with Keith and Barbara when I tidied up their grave. Elizabeth was born in the year of the Battle of Waterloo and lived into her 90s so I have photos of her with my grandfather ! A bit wizened looking she was , but a character . I have photos of their house in the village . I gave one to Keith and he has located it . In fact it is currently being sold ; a marvellous place it looks too. Regret ably sector salaries do not run to buying splendid houses in Somerset.

It is always interesting to pick up comment from other Blogs. I note some interesting ones on what is described as " CentreRight" which is hosted on " . There is an attack on me in a pompously entitled comment headed " Not in my Name" ( what , am I supposed to have started the Iraq war ? ) . This attacks my call for an emergency fund for the sector . According to this particular right winger this is "An enormous bung" and a comment further down attacks this as , "greedy and insensitive ." Well you guys , consider this . The Treasury has around £700ml in unclaimed gift aid relief and a further large amount in the unclaimed higher rate tax reliefs . So asking for some of this back at a time of serious decline in donations seems entirely reasonable . Unless your on the centre right of course where presumably we are supposed to suffer in silence and not complain like good little charities ; seen but not heard.

But I guess you have to sympathise ; in times when Gordon Brown implements Michael Foot's election manifesto promise to nationalise the banks and the Tory Leader denounces city types and their fat bonuses it must be difficult to work out what being centre right is these days !

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