Charles Kenyon: At least someone is looking out for smaller charities

Our columnist laments the lack of support for leadership, infrastructure and capacity in charities, but says the Association of Chairs is doing good work

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

A few years ago, Sir Stephen Bubb made some excoriating remarks about retired ex-service charity volunteers like myself. However, in his interview with Third Sector in December, I think he is right on two matters: the excellence of the Book of Common Prayer and the absence of a serious drive to support leadership, infrastructure and capacity in charities, whether through the government, the private sector or a combination of funding from both.

A variety of semi-commercial organisations with a third-sector tinge run various courses, but these are very expensive and not a good use of the limited funds that the many small, voluntarily run charities have at their disposal. There is a real need for good local charity hubs to promote high-quality leadership in volunteering. The Association of Chairs is a good model here; this small but expert organisation aims to help and guide the chairs of trustees, not just of charities but of other voluntary organisations such as community groups, housing associations and educational trusts.

The association offers first-class networking opportunities and instructive talks, which can revitalise the lonely task of chairing a board and open the door to new ideas. Well-researched booklets that help with the challenges are being produced. They are much better than anything from the Charity Commission, which, sadly, appears to have withdrawn from actively mentoring smaller charities. If Sir Stephen gets his leadership ideas off the ground, I hope he has a place for the Association of Chairs in his consultations.

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