Going monthly with the Great War and a survey

Some of the changes and reforms of the First World War are still visible among charities today, writes Third Sector editor Stephen Cook

Third Sector's survey shows that the relationship between charities and politicians is currently at a low point, writes Stephen Cook
Third Sector's survey shows that the relationship between charities and politicians is currently at a low point, writes Stephen Cook

In a few weeks the country will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, which brought fundamental changes to government and society, including charities and voluntary organisations. Fundraising and volunteering on the home front were a vital part of the war effort, as Carol Harris writes in one of this month's features. Some of the activities would be unthinkable today – the use of child fundraisers and "fag day", for example; but some of the changes and reforms are still visible in the modern sector.

One change was towards a more entwined relationship between the sector and the state, marked nowadays by a mixture of cooperation and friction. That relationship is currently at a low point, according to our latest State of the Sector survey: there is a lack of enthusiasm, bordering on indifference, for both the current government's initiatives for the sector and the sector policies of all the main parties at Westminster. There might be an upside to this: if charity is too close to government, it loses its meaning and purpose. Perhaps more worrying is a growing concern about the sector's independence and a fear that the government is trying to control and muzzle it.

These two articles illustrate a key aspect of the new Third Sector. The broader scope of a monthly publication allows us to cast the net more widely, look below the surface and write at length. This development is prompted by research among readers, who also told us they didn't want the essential approach of Third Sector to change; so we continue to round up and analyse key developments, and have extended our Good Practice pages to include social enterprise and local action. In our new form, we remain a critical friend of charities and voluntary organisations, which are the lifeblood of the good society, and are committed to helping them thrive. I hope you enjoy the new magazine.

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