The chief executive of the British Heart Foundation has called on the voluntary sector to rethink its approach to accountability and says it needs to consider tough questions such as whether a particular charity is "the best way of addressing an issue".
In an opinion article published by Third Sector today, Simon Gillespie, who will retire from his role at the end of the year, says the sector must "set out an agenda for change that governs the sector as a whole".
He says the good work carried out by charities risks being undermined "by an accountability puzzle that affects charities of all sizes".
He says: "That puzzle currently presents a series of challenging problems: to whom are charities really accountable and how do they demonstrate that accountability?
"This goes beyond being regulated: it speaks to the very identity of organisations in which and with which we work."
He calls on the sector to put in place mechanisms that convince people of the impact it is having both collectively and as individual organisations.
Charities must also ask themselves "tough questions" about whether a particular charity "is actually the best way of addressing an issue".
He says: "We should also applaud those who embrace collaboration, joint working and mergers so that charities deliver more, ideally, for less."