Debate: Are supporters being put off by the professionalisation of charities?

Reaction to the view of the Tory MP Rory Stewart that a more businesslike sector might be alienating people

Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart

Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications, NavcaNeil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications, Navca

The National Association for Voluntary and Community Action will always speak up for small charities, but Rory Stewart is being unfair on large ones. Charities of all sizes need to be professional. Public trust is damaged most by those charities that make poor use of donors' money and time.

We should be charity-like rather than business-like. This means using money well and trying to understand what works, while staying true to our values. If people are unhappy with a big charity, there are plenty of local ones to support.

Cathy Pharoah, professor of charity funding, Cass Business SchoolCathy Pharoah, professor of charity funding, Cass Business School

 

Rory Stewart has a rather old-fashioned notion of what charities do. It is no longer about Lady Bountiful distributing old clothes and food to the poor - charities now play an important role in social welfare and health services delivery. We must be clear about the appropriate roles for volunteers and professional staff. No one has really explored how the public is reacting to charities becoming more professionalised, and charities are uncertain about how the public feels about government funding, even when it is for mission-related activities.

Stephen Pidgeon, trustee, Institute of FundraisingStephen Pidgeon, trustee, Institute of Fundraising

 

Rory Stewart is talking through his hat. Do you think the Royal British Legion will break poppy sale records for the 15th year running without serious professionalism? The charming but frequently ineffective volunteers are supplemented by busloads of well-trained, well-motivated university graduates. Professionalism is essential. My only sadness is the indifference to the cause that results from a job becoming a career step rather than a passionate fight to raise money. But professional education can help fundraisers understand the dangers of such thinking. And we're doing that.

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