The spotlight falls on the charities minister

Rob Wilson, the reappointed Minister for Civil Society, has found himself in the middle of a furore about charity fundraising that will test his professed preference for light-touch regulation, writes the editor of Third Sector

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

It's taken everyone – including, one suspects, Rob Wilson – a long while to get used to the fact that Rob Wilson is the new charities minister. He has an entirely different style from his predecessor-but-one, Nick Hurd, and his early months have been relatively quiet.

Now he's been projected into the spotlight by the fundraising flap/furore/crisis – choose your terminology. He maintains in our interview with him that the two new additions to the charities bill are the best way to proceed, with further measures to follow a review of self-regulation. Despite the pressures on Wilson (not least from Number 10 and the Daily Mail), he has chosen Sir Stuart Etherington of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations to conduct the review, rather than some less benevolent figure – evidence, perhaps, of the light-touch approach he professes.

If this year's Charity Pulse had been focused on the morale of fundraisers – see our feature – it would have been easy to understand a second significant slump. But the survey was conducted before the Olive Cooke controversy, and the explanation is not easy to find.

Previous Pulses have demonstrated that when external pressures are high, internal affairs can be neglected and staff sentiment declines. Respondents this year don't mention this as a reason for their relative gloom – perhaps they don't consciously make the connection.

But external pressures have remained strong, including more spending cuts, rising beneficiary demand and a hostile public narrative about charities. Is the knock-on effect of these factors not the most likely cause of the double dip?

For relief from the gloom, the Third Sector Awards are coming up in September, celebrating charities for their brilliant performance in all weathers. Book now for an inspiring night out.

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