Friday 7 May 2010


So where does that leave us? One thing is for certain; we will have a new Third Sector Minister! I was sad to see Angela Smith, my parents' MP, lost her seat. At least my parents voted for her. She was a good Minister, but will we now have Nick Hurd or Person unknown?

A strange but exciting evening. I had a leisurely lunch with an old friend Robin Hutchinson, who used to work for Guide Dogs and now runs several brand consultancy and arts companies. Then it was off to dinner at the House of Lords! A dinner for the influential Committee for Corporate Philanthropy. I had a number of rather interesting discussions with members about why Philanthropists don't think of loans rather than grants all the time? Is it not odd that business people who are so used to the capital markets and the power of loans to grow, fail to use this model for the third sector. And what was strange to me was that this idea clearly seemed rather novel to them.

In a sense its an indictment of corporate philanthropy as a form of patronage. Doing good by spreading largesse, rather than thinking strategically about who to build the capacity of the sector. Of course there are great business figures who do see this; Ronnie Cohen is a shining example.

I am keen that the Social Investment Business makes links with corporate philanthropists and Foundations to explore the social investment model. We could offer them the chance to use our staff to assess and make the loans if they provide the capital finance.

Then onto the Institute of Government Election night Party in Carlton Gardens. A magnificent mix of bright young things, policy wonks and media and a whole cluster of Permanent Secretaries. I made it till about 2am when I decided my age required sleep!

Good to see my colleague Stuart Etherington at the Lords dinner. We talked about how we respond to the potential results as a sector. We agree there is an opportunity for us, but we need to be canny on how we approach a new Government.

Our Big Offer to a Lib-Dem-Labour Government, or a Lib-Dem-Tory Government, or a minority Tory Government, is that our sector can help build recovery and social cohesion and deliver public service reform. The debate on how to cut the Government debt has been unspecific and marked by an element of dishonesty. A major reform of services by placing many of them in the hands of the third sector is essential. Who will deliver that? Unfortunately I don't see that happening with a coalition Government who will fudge it.

But the election has marked a real renaissance for our sector. We have featured strongly in a way that has not happened in my lifetime. The debate on "Big Society" or big state has got politicians focusing both on our abilities to deliver cohesive communities as well as better citizen focused services. So whichever the outcome for the Parties, the sector has won.

1 comment:

Teach English South America said...

This is really interesting take on the concept. I never thought of it that way. I came across this site recently which I think will be of great use Teach English South America. Have a look!