Interview: Incoming NSPCC chief Andrew Flanagan prepares to boost corporate donations

Andrew Flanagan does not try to sugar the prospect of difficult times ahead.

Andrew Flanagan
Andrew Flanagan

The man who will succeed Dame Mary Marsh as chief executive of the children's charity in January is preparing for tough times.

"We won't be immune from what's happening to the economy," he says. "Part of my role is to minimise the effects and to make sure that every pound we spend, we spend effectively."

Last month, the NSPCC said it was making at least six people redundant and reviewing all activities to maintain a "solid financial position" (Third Sector Online, 15 October). The fact that a charity as rich and popular as the NSPCC, which generated £152m last year, is feeling the pinch shows how difficult times are in the sector.

So it is no surprise to hear Flanagan describe fundraising as his priority. Public donations currently account for 84 per cent of income, and Flanagan thinks more could come from companies. "That's going to be tough in the next couple of years, but we probably don't push our weight there," he says.

Flanagan has never worked in the voluntary sector before but has strong business credentials. He started his career as an accountant and then worked in telecommunications and IT before spending 14 years at Scottish Media Group, which is now called STV. For a decade he was chief executive of the company, whose brands include Virgin Radio, before resigning in July 2006 with a reported pay-off of £500,000. So how bad does he think the UK's fundraising environment will get?

"It's hard to predict at this stage," he says. "We have a lot of reserves, and that can smooth the impact in the short term. But if we go into several years of recession, we will have to look at some of the decisions we have made for the organisation."

Could that lead to further job losses? "You can never rule things out - but the NSPCC is in a strong financial position at the moment," he says.

Flanagan divides his weekends between golf, supporting Celtic and acting as a taxi service to his three young children. He is from a different background to Marsh, who used to be a head teacher.

"Mary was from an education background - I'm from a business background," he says. "Perhaps the charity will pick someone from a social care background next."

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