Editorial: Grade's populism is his best qualification

The interim chair of the new Fundraising Regulator has a number of qualities that will help him in his new post, writes the editor of Third Sector, but his popular appeal could be his greatest strength

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

Two things quickly became clear when Lord Grade made his first appearance as interim chair of the new Fundraising Regulator: the first, that he's a canny tactician; and the second, that he's got a good contacts book.

The tactics included making common cause with potential opponents by emphasising that he'd endured intensive regulation himself - cue amusing anecdote of the late Lady Plowden calling the soap opera Crossroads "distressingly popular".

The contacts book showed itself when he was asked about the Fundraising Preference Service and immediately introduced George Kidd, who had the key issues on the tip of his tongue, as leader of a working party on the subject: a commendably rapid appointment.

But perhaps Grade's most convincing qualification for the job is that, as a former colleague of his points out in our profile, he is a populist. His long career suggests that he has a strong - though not infallible - feel for what plays well with middle England. And that, to a great extent, is what is at issue in the current fundraising crisis.

Developing the new regulator will be a dominant project in 2016, when, our columnist Craig Dearden-Phillips argues, many charities will be called on to adapt or die. The Scout Association, however, appears to be in rude health, and its chief executive Matt Hyde, is our main interviewee this month. It's heartening to hear of young people becoming more interested in community action.

Dark days are upon the sector just now, literally and metaphorically. But if you need reminding what charities are for and why we need them, just read Debra Allcock Tyler's inspired polemic in Last Word. You'll feel a lot a better about things afterwards.

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