A great breakfast this morning (and I don't normally do
breakfast!) with Simon Blake of the national charity Brook, the sexual health
foundation. He has led the merger of a wide range of local Brook’s into
the one national organisation. He was telling me, after learning so much about
mergers, he now knows where he went wrong and where he went right. Ultimately,
he archived the merger, which he thinks might have saved many of the local
organisations who otherwise might have gone bust. He has agreed to write this
up for our acevo leadership journal. Hope he remembers that!
Simon is also the Chair of Compact Voice so we had a frank
discussion on all that!
The whole debate about local and national is an interesting
one. Certainly the sector as a whole is having to get it’s head around the new “localism
“agenda. We are moving our own organisation in acevo to ensure we can support
members on this. As I recorded last week, we have developed an active CEO
regional forum structure.
Our regional engagement continued this week with our South
West leadership forum in Bristol where members discussed with the ESRC
(European Social Research Council) future research plans and how to engage and
get involved more locally. We told the ESRC how they need to improve their
dissemination and make this less for academia and useful in the real world!
You would expect no less from a bunch of practical CEOs.
As ever, Governance came up. We will shortly be publishing
our Report from the acevo Governance Commission. Watch out for this!
This leads me nicely to the brilliant article in this week's
Third Sector about the work of acevo's helpline "Chief Executives in
As Third Sector reported, it has experienced a steep
increase in calls since 2011. I liked the comment from Jenny Berry who they
report has a vivid image for the predicament of chief executives as they
struggle to run their charities in a time of change, pressure and economic
hardship. "I would compare it to being the pinch point in an egg
timer," she says. "On one side of the egg timer is the board; on the
other side are the beneficiaries." Jenny runs our acevo service; “Chief Executives in Crisis", set up three
years ago in response to an upsurge in calls for help. She gives general
governance advice to some callers; some are referred to a legal helpline that
gives four hours of free advice, with more available at discounted rates; and
others are referred for unlimited free counselling. This is not just about
support for a CEO; it is about how we improve governance across the sector. How
we help route out bad practice and contribute to a better sector. A real
example of the public benefit acevo brings as an organisation.