For the RSPCA, 'sorry' might be the best word

The animal charity has been embroiled in controversy for some time, but the new chief shows signs of looking to mend some bridges, writes the acting editor of Third Sector

Andy Hillier
Andy Hillier

The RSPCA has endured more than its share of criticism in recent years. Even before the wider crisis hit the charity sector, it was fending off allegations of squandering money on prosecuting fox hunts and needlessly putting down family pets.

The criticism took its toll. Two years ago, Gavin Grant, its chief executive, departed for health reasons. More recently, a number of trustees have stepped down over concerns about its running. After a protracted search, the charity has a new chief in place: Jeremy Cooper. In our interview, he tells Stephen Cook how he's planning move the RSPCA on. His strategy includes talking to its critics, becoming less adversarial and, crucially, apologising for past mistakes. Sometimes, "sorry" truly is the best word.

In our second interview, we hear from Cliff Prior, the new chief executive of Big Society Capital, about how he plans to encourage more charities to take on social investment. With many trustees reluctant to borrow money, he has a real challenge ahead.

Elsewhere, Andy Ricketts investigates whether the charitable foundations set up by sports stars really achieve much or are merely window dressing for the stars. The foundations and trusts of 20 sporting names come under the microscope. What emerges is that running a successful foundation requires good fundraising skills and an ability to keep on top of the administration - something that appears beyond some sports personalities.

The print issue also includes our annual focus on charity investment. The markets have been on a roller-coaster ride since the heady days of last summer, making it difficult for charities to know where to put their money. I hope our investment focus will provide some useful pointers.

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