This is Dr Mary Chadwick's website and blog with an idiosyncratic approach to civil society, politics and public policy...
This is the text of an article that was recently published in the ICEAW Charity and Voluntary Sector Group Newsletter:
Is the sector really consolidating?
“Over the past year Mary Chadwick has been exploring the landscape surrounding mergers and collaborative working in the voluntary and community sector. She shares her findings with us.
Back in 2002, having escaped from the City and deciding what to do with my life, I met Helen Dent, Chief Executive of Family Action. Helen gave me a huge amount of support in my journey to the third sector and we remain friends. She had taken over as Chief Executive of Family Action (then Family Welfare Association) and transformed it to a thriving organisation, meeting the needs of today’s society, with a turnover of around £20 million. Family Action offers outstanding support to help families overcome difficulties and flourish.
After 16 years as Chief Executive Helen is retiring. She is one of those people who you know would have been hugely successful in whatever sector she chose. She will doubtless have a busy and successful life after she leaves Family Action, and I like many many others, wish her the very best. But it was only some years after we met that I realised that Family Action is descended from another organisation I had encountered as a historian – the Charity Organisation Society (“COS”). The story of the COS is just one example of the curious history of a number of our well known charities.
Toynbee Hall is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the publication of the famous Beveridge Report with a series of lectures. The Report, published in November 1942, famously described its goals as eliminating the Five Giants: Want, Ignorance, Squalor, Ignorance, Disease. On Monday, Geoff Mulgan asked what would be the changing face of welfare in the future; what giants will we need to slay; what will be the next welfare settlement?
I set up my website over a year ago, driven by a decade of experience in the third sector (aka voluntary and community sector, nonprofits, civil society organisations – we can get too hung up on words and definitions). As a newcomer I found the culture and underlying assumptions fascinating, partly because of the differences from the highly charged atmosphere of the City financial sector to which I was accustomed.
Through consultancy and afterwards through a social enterprise I explored this world, and strove to make organisations more fit for purpose, occasionally with some success. It’s a sector that alternatively inspires and enrages but I am still amazed at the commitment, drive and creativity I find.
Frank Field gave a speech at Toynbee Hall on Tuesday evening commemorating the 70th anniversary of the publication of the famous Beveridge Report. William Beveridge was sub Warden of Toynbee Hall from 1903 to 1905, and the ethos of the place remained with him throughout his life. Toynbee Hall was the first of a movement that grew in the late 19th century, the University Settlement movement. Its objectives might seem quaint by modern standards, for professional men to live among the poor in order to: spread education and culture; discover facts about social problems; and to establish relationships with working class people. Nevertheless their influence was enormous, with, for example, Clem Attlee learning about the real social problems of the day as Warden before he entered national politics.
The role of trustees during a collaboration or merger; presentation to CAS Southwark, 8 November 2012.
Some key points:
Economic environment; much talk of collaboration, merger, consortia, partnership. But you don't have to merge - restructuring or closing or growing earned income are also possible strategic options.
Trustees have a duty to preserve the values of their charity, yet to balance this by thinking outside the box and considering collaboration and merger.