Friday, 30 May 2008

Building our sector's strength

Had lunch with the dynamic and vivacious acting Chief Executive of Capacity Builders , Catherine Johnston ( and her charming side kick Jon Fox ) yesterday. Capacity Builders was established by the Government to help develop the infrastructure of the third sector ; through building strength in areas like leadership , IT , strategic planning ,performance and the like. It has a large endowment from Government and is currently supporting a range of bodies like acevo in promoting professionalism in our sector. They have had a chequered history. The "hub" experiment was not a success. We will need to work hard to ensure its successor , the national support services, works well. acevo is delivering the income generation service with our partners and we are in collaboration with NCVO and Community Matters on Leadership and Governance.
But our discussion is mainly about how Capacity Builders and Future Builders can work more closely together. We have a common interest in helping third sector organisations compete for , and win more public service delivery for citizen focused third sector bodies.

So we discuss work on developing a common scheme between us to support organisations in preparing tenders and being commissioning ready. They have the support for developing capacity in organisations and we have investment funds . There is an obvious overlap . We agree to see if there is scope to run a joint scheme. So we will need to see if we can get support for it.
There is a need for much more collaborative working in our sector . I am working on an article for Third Sector. Stephen Cook , the Editor reminds me I was supposed to get it to him today ; but I never got the original email so now will have to devote the weekend to finishing and delivering it . So less time for the weeding . The garden in the cottage has gone berserk in the last 2 weeks ; the roses are magnificent , but the weeds are in too full health and they must go.

I also interviewed for the final place on the Future Builders Board on Thursday . Kevin Carey is currently Vice Chair of RNIB , and I suspect a future Chair! He also runs a small charity and worked for Sight Savers , a magnificent international ngo , run by a fantastic acevo member. Kevin is a great figure ; looking rather like an Old Testament prophet, he tells me he has been working on a sermon whilst waiting to see me . He has both a great sense of "vision" and a down to earth no nonsense approach . He will be a great foil to some of the top international investment bankers and venture capitalists we also have on the Board . He is blind and we talk about the support we will give him to ensure he can play a full role as a non exec on the Board. I am delighted he wants to join us . We now have a well balanced and diverse board . Good sector people from small and large charities , and from social enterprise as well as some really top people from the City. But it is clear I am going to have a hard task in Chairing a group as talented and dynamic as we now have . I expect clashes of ideas and egos . Still , I would not want it any other way. A challenging and involved Board is essential to good governance. Watch out for the press release next week with all the details.

My poor staff . Keeping up with their CEO . Or sometimes trying to control him . My effective and talented Head of Policy Seb Elsworth has to keep checking my blog to ensure no howlers , indiscretions or other outrages . But he can only do it in retrospect . The other day he came into my office ;

" You're blogging aren't you ",

" How do you know ? " ( Chief executive asks querulously )

" Because it's been very quiet for the last half hour ! "

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