Parting Shot: Graham Hodgkin

The outgoing chief executive of London's Air Ambulance on 'professionalisation' of the sector

Graham Hodgkin
Graham Hodgkin

Charities exist because of market failure and the absence of state-funded solutions. In these uncertain times, charities are increasingly important components of our social fabric and service infrastructure. To continue to thrive, they need to retain a relentless focus on mission and ensure public benefit remains at the very core of all they do.

"Professionalisation" of the sector remains a subject for debate, but I believe it's an important component of a charity's evolution. This does not mean that they become faceless, dispassionate and remote corporate-style entities, but the demands on the sector require them to value strong and effective leadership, to attract and invest in emerging talent, to be financially astute and appropriately transparent with their stakeholders. Being more businesslike is a positive thing - every charity should aspire to operational efficiency, commercial awareness and professional excellence, particularly those looking to deliver sustained benefit at scale. Descriptors such as "not-for-profit" do the sector an injustice - charities are for-profit, but it's how financial surpluses are reinvested that defines them.

Corporates remain agnostic about what they could learn from charities, but social sector organisations can continue to leverage best practice from their commercial peers. Cross-sector partnerships, collaboration and joint ventures must be higher up the agenda. It's the alignment of entrepreneurial flair and financial nous with an all-purveying sense of purpose and social justice that brings sustainable social impact.

I've been privileged to lead London's Air Ambulance and I'm proud of our compelling mission, financial success and heightened brand awareness.

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