Don't follow the Americans, charity editor warns

Charities in the UK should not look to the US for good practice, according to the head of an American charity magazine.

Ruth McCambridge, editor of The Nonprofit Quarterly, said the government-funded third sector in the US had stagnated, with many service-delivering charities losing touch with their beneficiaries in the struggle to survive financially.

"The US is a source of bad lessons only," she said. "There is no Compact and the sector's capacity to advocate is pathetic."

The US government funded only charities that delivered health and human services, leaving "social transformation" organisations looking for funding elsewhere, she said.

McCambridge, who has worked in the US voluntary sector, was speaking at the Acevo and Euclid Network's Global Learning Forum last week. Government funding was so low that charities delivering services were too busy "keeping house and home together" to liaise with each other and beneficiaries to build a strong advocacy position, she said.

Many small and medium-sized charities had been forced out of service delivery altogether by excessive reporting requirements, she added.


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