Sir Stephen Bubb

Sir Stephen Bubb

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Gloom

Watching the news is no fun. I even found myself doing a calculation on my pension last night. And the good news ( for me at least) is George has not stolen another year off me.

But the reality that we are in recession and face at least 5 years more of gloom is depressing. What does not come through is all the economic analysis is the effect of all this on the citizens and communities our sector serves.

And for the sector CEO , already stretched by trying to cope with declining income and growing demand there seems little light at the end of the tunnel.

But there is no point in wallowing in the doom. We have a job to do. What any sector CEO knows is that we are often at our best when facing down difficulty.

And in thinking through new ways to raise funds or to innovate I thought it was unhelpful of Kevin Curley of NAVCA , in his last conference speech( as reported in Third Sector ) , to criticise relationships that have developed between the third and private sectors. He suggested some partnerships with companies appeared to be at odds with their purpose in tackling disadvantage ie the work programme.

This sub prime marxism is really not a helpful contribution to our future. Clearly we must ensure that whatever partnerships we pursue, whether with the public or private sectors meet our objectives. We must have tight contracts and CEOs need to be vigilant a out their terms and monitor outcomes. But the idea we should not engage with companies simply because they make and maximise profits is nonsensical. We live in a capitalist system. We engage with it on behalf of our beneficiaries.

If we can make partnerships that help create jobs, as many of our members are doing in the Work Programme then that is furthering our mission. What does not help our beneficiaries is abstract theological or ideological debate on engaging with companies because they wickedly maximise profit.

He asks should we be " helping G4S and A4E to maximise their profits?".
This is a nonsensical question. No third sector organisation in their supply chains agreed to that other than to help hard to reach people back into work.

The real questions are;

* does the deal help people into work we couldn't help otherwise?
*does it further our overall mission
* are the terms and payments such that we do not make a loss ourselves and we are not being exploited?

Somehow I don't think ACEVO members out there wake up in the morning thinking how they can help a company make a profit. But they do desperately want to help people back into work. No one has been more upfront in criticism of the WP than ACEVO. See Blog yesterday. But let's ensure our critique is right, not ideology.

In wider terms I think developing partnership working with others in public or private sector organisations is a good way forward for a CEO thinking how to survive the recession.

Anyway that's enough rant. I'm off for a lunch with J P Morgan wearing my SIB hat. We have to engage the finance sector in the social finance market. Until making loans to our sector becomes part of mainstream banking we can't advance the way in which we access capital as organisations.

I may detest the way they pay themselves bonuses ( as I said to Stephen Hester of RBS last week ) but not engaging in constructive dialogue is not sensible. So sorry Kevin, I'm supping with the devil. But that's what a CEO sometimes has to do to advance our cause.

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