Charities should 'potentially consider consolidating', Red Cross chief says

Mike Adamson says if he was in government he would not be sure whether he would know who to engage with on the big issues

Mike Adamson
Mike Adamson

Charities of all sizes must find ways to collaborate more and potentially consider consolidating, the chief executive of the British Red Cross has said. 

In a blog about what the future holds for the charities after the Covid-19 pandemic, Mike Adamson says the voluntary sector must demonstrate to government that it has practical solutions to the society’s challenges. 

But he says the sector is too disparate to be an “investible and viable partner at the top table on the big issues”. 

He says in the blog, which is hosted on the website of the charity think tank NPC: “If I was in government, I am not sure I would always know who to engage with,” he says. 

“Big and small charities must find ways to collaborate and potentially even consider consolidating.”

The theme of increased collaboration builds on ideas set out in a blog Adamson wrote for Third Sector in May

He writes in his latest piece that leaders in the sector must rethink their approaches and “reach out to partners with whom we can share common purpose to collaborate or consolidate to pool resources”. 

“If we are truly leaning in, it should feel viscerally different, even uncomfortable,” he writes. 

“We need to invest seriously in leadership development for the new talent coming through, and for the old dogs like me who are still going to be around in one role or another, trying to help change the world for the better.

“We must be open to learning with leaders from other sectors, facing different, but related challenges.

In the blog, Adamson also says charities need a “transformation in data and digital capabilities across the sector that puts the needs of the user first”. 

He says: “We need to be ready to share information within the sector, we need to better predict how people will use our services and we need to use new ways to reach people. That means new capabilities in newly designed organisations.”

He says the sector must also be “genuinely inclusive and diverse in the people we seek to support, as well as the staff and volunteers that work in our charities”. 

He says: “This is a profound matter of identity. Without this, we will become irrelevant and less effective in our delivery.”

Adamson concludes by saying he senses a new mood, “a growing realisation that we need to change if we are to harness the new power that responding to Covid-19 requires”, he says. 

“If we embrace this, I am confident not only about this fight, but the ones to follow too.”

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