Who needs passion if you run a tight ship?

Some say the regulator's new chief executive Paula Sussex has not displayed a great deal of fellow-feeling with charities; but that might not be such a bad thing, writes the editor of Third Sector

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

Two contributors to our profile this month of Paula Sussex, who took over as chief executive of the Charity Commission nearly five months ago, say they discern in her a lack of passion for charities. But a bit too much fellow-feeling with charities, of one kind or another, contributed not long ago to an almost laissez-faire approach to regulation that Sussex is now striving to put right. Passion can also be the enemy of sound decisions.

The "P" word aside, Sussex told one of our sources she thought she had been appointed because she was used to running things, and the evidence seems to confirm that she is indeed a good manager. What people also want to know is whether she will be the servant or the equal of the commission board, which is bent on re-examining everything the commission does and is likely to cause controversy in doing so.

The real shocker of recent weeks has been the collapse of the BeatBullying Group, a charity that was everyone's darling in the noughties (and, yes, it had won three Third Sector Awards by 2011). Its troubles, like those of many other failed organisations, seem to have begun with a hubristic decision to expand beyond its core expertise and diversify its services. In this month's issue, Andy Hillier pieces together a jigsaw of financial shortcomings, shabby treatment of staff and the virtual abandonment of the charity's beneficiaries.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, we also take a look back over an eventful year for the sector. The post of charities minister moved right to the top of the political agenda at one point, for all the wrong reasons; the Charity Commission was limbering up to come off the naughty step; and the system of fundraising regulation managed to inch forward a bit. That was the year, that was: roll on 2015.

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