Tuesday 31 March 2009

On the way

Just boarded the Acela Express for Washington. Note we take the train rather than the plane thus demonstrating a small contribution to saving planet earth.

Yesterday was a five day meeting. We started with the Non Profit Finance Fund; based in NYC but nationwide. Its been making loan finance available to Non-Profits for 30 years. We swapped stories about loans and I talked about the work of Futurebuilders. They were surprised at the length of our loans - they have a maximum of seven years. Ours they described as UNTWNT ones. You not there - we not there. Indeed!

The Deputy Director of the Ford Foundation was a delight. A great conversation and we agree to demonstrate our FCR business model - she was fascinated by our FCR campaign. She had great insights into the US scene.

This was built on at lunch when we met the great Howard Husock, Vice President of the Manhattan Institute. Lunch met the two key Bubb criteria for a great lunch; good food in agreeable surroundings and an intellectually stimulating discussion. We were at the Harvard Club and I went for the crab cakes, again. Howard was an award winning broadcaster (three Emmys) and our conversation ranged from the Statute of Elizabeth, through the legal status of The Church to public sector reform. He was fascinated we were meeting with the White House's new Centre on Social Innovation. As indeed we are, as we make our way back to DC.

Final stop - The UN. No, not an appointment as Peace keeper in Darfur, but a meeting with their Democratisation Fund and their interest in our Euclid work in Eastern Europe; building civil society through developing Leaders.

During the course of the week I have been attempting to purchase stamps to send postcards. This has been a great reminder of how public service is so often designed for the benefit of those who work in it rather than the customer. I visit the NYC post office; a building of such magnificence one could only assume it was built to serve as a part time Cathedral should St Patrick's be out of action. Its magnificence is in direct proportion to its use as a place to sell stamps. The line to the small number of confessional booths where the Grand Members of the US Mail await their penitents is long. It is policed by a Security Guard, there no doubt to ensure no unfortunate spitting or irreverence. I make do with an automated box but feel cheated.

Time for Change Mr President. Time for public service reform.

Watch Obama getting on his plane for London as I head for the train to the White House.

See Matthew Taylor has blogged about third sector governance. The need for reform. Taking it seriously. A message ACEVO has preached for years. To read his article on his blog click here.

Good to have his support. There is simply too much complacency on this in the sector. When it goes wrong, or is flawed, it is bad.

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