A recent article on Thirdsector.co.uk included the preliminary
findings of the NCVO’s Leadership 20:20 Commission. The key finding highlighted was that the biggest challenge
the voluntary and community sector will face in 2020 will be funding.
Perhaps you’re not surprised
by that, especially given the state of sector funding at the moment. The Voluntary Sector Cuts website alone
details 483 cuts reported so far, worth Â£75,541,527. The road to recovery will be a long one and come 2020 there
will still be many funding challenges for the sector to face.
However, I do worry at the
short-sightedness of the finding. To focus on the financial challenges above all else is to suggest a
mindset in the leaders of the future that isn’t that much different from the
one dominating the current sector leadership.
I would argue that a key
challenge facing the leaders in the voluntary and community sector is to move
beyond a slavish focus on money as the only substantial resource at their
When you stop to think about
it, no organisation is going to have all the money it needs to do all the
things it wants to do, particularly in the kind of economic climate that is
going to dominate in the coming years. So, we are faced with two choices: cut back our aspirations to meet our
financial means; or find creative ways to make what money we have go further.
The Commission’s findings
suggest the former choice might be dominating people’s thinking. To me that’s not leadership
but a lack of vision leading to curtailed ambition. Instead we should be
exploring creative solutions.
I think one of the biggest
areas of potential is in volunteering.
Voluntary sector leaders
should be developing their skills in volunteerism and actively supporting and
developing people-raising as well as fund-raising.
They should be looking to
find ways to maximise the potential contribution of an increasing number of
people who have considerable professional skills that they want to use for
They should be embracing new
ways of working that incorporate the use of the most precious resource many
people have to give to charities, their time.
To do this, to move beyond a
myopic focus on funding and embrace volunteering, we need leaders who are
skilled in leading and engaging volunteers, who can add the significant value
of donated time to organisations, making those precious pennies go even
Rob Jackson is director of
Rob Jackson Consulting