Etherington was unveiled yesterday as the new chair of the Big Society Trust, which oversees the work of social finance bodies including Big Society Capital, at the same time as the trust also announced that it would be changing its name to the Oversight Trust – Assets for the Common Good.
But in a series of tweets, David Floyd, managing director of Social Spider, said Etherington’s appointment was “terrible” and urged Etherington to step down from his new role.
He said that under Etherington's 25 years of leadership the National Council for Voluntary Organisations constituted “pathetic whiners in chief”. Floyd said the organisation was “always happy to moan” about approaches to social investment, but had “absolutely no meaningful understanding of what might work better and why”.
Criticising Etherington’s time as chief executive of the NCVO, Floyd said: “Etherington had his chance to shape the development of social investment as leader of the UK's biggest voluntary sector umbrella body, and he couldn't have failed more badly.”
Floyd also criticised “the earlier years” of Big Society Capital for its “response to the emerging social investment from voluntary sector infrastructure bodies”, which he also described as pathetic.
Insisting he had no “ill will” towards Etherington, Floyd maintained that he would be “opposed to any 2000s/2010s voluntary sector infrastructure major leader getting this role”.
He added: “They had their chance. They screwed up very badly. It’s time for new people with new ideas.”
Etherington stepped into his new role as chair of the Big Society Trust on 8 June, but Floyd's tweets described the type chair he said the trust needed.
“Big Society Trust needs a chair who will recognise and understand the changing needs of charities and social enterprises for social investment – and help its organisations deliver on them a practical and positive way”, he said.
Etherington declined to comment when contacted by Third Sector.
Chloe Stables, head of communications at the NCVO, supported her former boss.
She tweeted: “Having seen Stuart spend a lot of time over the years talking about the potential of social investment, this appointment makes a lot of sense (and for some reason this always involved drawing out potential models on napkins in the Commons tea room with @NickHurdUK and others!).”