Introduction: Lesley-Anne Alexander

The chair of Acevo marks the organisation's 25 years as a major player in the voluntary sector

Lesley-Anne Alexander
Lesley-Anne Alexander

It’s lonely at the top – but it doesn’t have to be.

Margaret Mead, the cultural anthropologist, once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world."

When Acevo was launched 25 years ago, I am sure that the founding members did not set out to change the whole world. But these thoughtful and concerned individuals did decide that they wanted to make a difference to their world by creating a safe space in which to discuss the issues that are unique to charity chief executives. From this small acorn, a mighty oak grew. Today, Acevo continues to provide that safe space for charity chief executives to have those protected discussions – but it also provides so much more.

Networking, learning and sharing information with peers in similar roles is one of the main reasons why people join Acevo. In addition to being an enabler of productive discussions on all aspects of good third sector leadership, Acevo has developed in response to members’ needs.

Acevo helps members with services that support them in their unique role. Our free helplines cover, for example, governance issues, fundraising and the legal issues surrounding human resources. If a member found themselves suddenly in hot water with their board, Acevo could provide them with emotional and legal support.

In order to run organisations well, we need to invest in leadership skills. Acevo helps to develop members’ skills through a range of methods that include leadership programmes, courses, publications, coaching and mentoring.

Our representational work has also become a favoured benefit, with many members saying that we have connected them to key individuals and policymakers in government. We have played a significant role in areas such as full cost recovery, Gift Aid, social investment and public service reform.

Acevo has evolved into a respected voice and a major player on behalf of third sector chief executives.

It can be lonely at the top – but it doesn’t have to be. For the past 25 years, Acevo has supported members both personally and professionally. If you’re a third sector leader, be a part of Acevo’s next 25 years. You’ll be glad you joined.

- Read other articles about how Acevo has evolved over the past 25 years, including an interview with Sir Stephen Bubb

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