For the past nine months, it has seemed as if the Charity Commission was all talk.
Time after time, with the familiar criticisms of fuddy-duddyism sailing past their ears, chair Geraldine Peacock and chief executive Andrew Hind have stood up in public and produced persuasive words about an impending new era of inclusiveness, efficiency, innovation and proportionate action. You almost wanted to stand up and shout: "Just get on with it!"
Now, it seems, we're moving towards some real action. The commission has produced a strategy document with a new vision of "charity working at the heart of society" and plans for a radical reorganisation of its structure and working methods. The most encouraging aspect of this is perhaps the creation of a new reception unit, which will handle all enquiries quickly and appropriately by dealing with them on the spot, referring them to an outside agency or sending them on to the right department on a speedy electronic transfer system. We have been assured that this will not be just another maddening call centre - its staff will be experienced and well-trained.
Another encouraging move is the decision that charities with incomes below £250,000 will, from this year onwards, be spared part B of the annual return and be required to complete only part A. At the same time, a part C will be added for the largest charities, requiring them to include more detail. This move is expected to reduce the administrative burden on 56,000 smaller charities and gives welcome practical substance to the pledge of more proportionate regulation.
There are other moves under way that may not bring such obvious advantages. Does the bright new T-shirt logo, as some of our Hot Issue contributors asked last week, really include, as it arguably ought to, the idea that the commission is a regulator with some swingeing legal powers up its sleeve? And how successful is the commission going to be in combining the role of regulator not only with the role of adviser - which it already has, to the confusion of some clients - but also with the roles of advocate and general promoter of charitable activity that it has pledged to develop?
For many out there, it would be more than enough for the commission to become an efficient and proportionate regulator - there are other bodies already engaged in promoting and enabling. It's good to see the commission striding forward, but how many hats can one organisation wear?