Charity umbrella bodies such as Acevo, NCVO, the Institute of Fundraising, the Charity Finance Directors' Group (CFDG) and Directory of Social Change should work more closely together to achieve common goals and save costs, Acevo's chief executive Stephen Bubb urged last week.
Addressing charity chief executives at the Acevo summer conference, Bubb suggested the organisations could share office space in a "Third Sector House
but retain their separate identities.
"I believe each body has a distinctive role, but isn't there a case for us joining together? We should be in the same building, we should be sharing administrative support services and combining our strengths so that we can pursue a common agenda of leadership for the sector. 'Strength through unity,'
Bubb told Third Sector that charity umbrella bodies were poor at pursuing a collective agenda and needed to rise to the challenge of responding to the forthcoming Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) and Treasury reviews of charity law and the role of the voluntary sector in delivering public services. "We need a big leadership development programme for chief executives, trustees, fundraising directors and finance directors.
We should be working together on that, it shouldn't be just Acevo."
The Government is encouraging working between departments and the voluntary sector should follow suit, he added. The physical proximity of shared office space would lead to the cross-fertilisation of ideas and linking up on policy development.
Lyndsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, supported Bubb's proposals. "CFDG, the Institute of Fundraising and Acevo have been examining ways of working more closely together. The Institute of Fundraising would love to be relocated and share administration resources but still provide and individual and separate services to our members,
He also backed a closer policy relationship between the different umbrella bodies in the light of the Government reviews. "The PIU is going to call for the sector to do more to regulate itself. If we are going to do that, umbrella bodies will have to work closer together in a structured and sensible way.
In particular, the sector would have to decide what body would be suited to measure the outputs of charities, Boswell said.
In an example of such a new partnership, Bubb said that Acevo and NCVO are to commission a study of the support and funding for leadership in the sector.