Civil Society Forum launched

Network of 'leaders across civil society' has been set up to encourage innovation and collaboration

Lucian Hudson, co-founder of Civil Society Forum
Lucian Hudson, co-founder of Civil Society Forum

A group of consultants and social entrepreneurs launched what they called a new network for civil society leaders today.

The Civil Society Forum is intended to encourage greater collaboration and innovation among charities in the wake of government spending cuts.

It plans to focus on issues such as managing the redesign of public services and finding ways for charities to do more with less money.

The forum is an informal network, with no premises. A launch event was due to be held today at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in London.

The launch event cost £35 to attend, with an additional charge for the event dinner. Additional workshops may be staged, depending on interest, at extra cost.

Co-founder Aidan Ward, a partner at the management consultancy Fractal, said: "The aim is to connect people who want to work together and enable civil society to pursue its agenda effectively.

"Acevo costs an awful lot to join and it’s not necessarily where the innovation is. And the NCVO is too close to the government line and is not prepared to carry a message to government that risks its funding."

Asked if the new organisation was also a vehicle to sell members' services, he said: "We can't preclude consultants being paid for the services they're offering."

Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive at Acevo, said his organisation was responsible for numerous innovations – such as the Future Jobs Fund and full cost recovery – that had shaped major public spending programmes.

He said that the cost of membership of Acevo started at £50 and that the organisation ran 150 free events in the past year.

But he said that any organisation for voluntary sector leaders was to be welcomed because "voluntary sector organisations need all the support they can get".

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive at the NCVO, said: "We have long championed the need for greater collaboration and innovation.

"We look forward to working with the Civil Society Forum as it looks to stimulate discussion and generate new ideas."

The co-founders of the Civil Society Forum are:

- Esther Ridsdale, managing director of consultancy CSPI Associates and former collaborative working officer at the NCVO

- James Plunket, managing director of the Social Investment Group and member of the Philanthropy Advice Steering Group

- Lucian Hudson, chairman of the Collaborative Strategies Network and managing director of consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates

- John Carlisle, managing director of consultancy Cooperation Works

- Mark Napier, managing director, Centre for Public Innovation

- Aidan Ward, partner at Fractal.

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