Interview: Nick Roseveare is leading a shake-up of Bond

He talks to Mathew Little about his plans for the umbrella body for international development charities

Nick Roseveare
Nick Roseveare

Nick Roseveare is part of a lucky minority of charity chief executives who aren't contemplating 2010 with dread.

While others wait for the axe to fall, members of Roseveare's Bond umbrella body, which represents international development charities, can, in theory, expect increases in funding over the next few years.

All three main political parties have committed themselves to increasing the aid budget to 0.7 per cent of gross national income - Labour has even said it will enshrine the target in legislation. "The devil is in the detail," says Roseveare, "but we would see it as a logical consequence that assistance to development sector NGOs would increase as well."

But a relatively benign funding environment doesn't mean that development charities don't face challenges. They have to do more to explain the value of their work to the public, Roseveare believes. "In the current economic climate and with the impact of climate change being felt more over the next five or 10 years, it wouldn't be surprising if people had to be reminded about needs that are further from home," he says.

Roseveare, a former Oxfam staffer and one-time anti-apartheid activist, joined Bond in 2008 and has overseen a rebrand aimed at "painting a more assertive picture of the organisation".

Bond's role, he believes, is representing to government the collective voice of a movement that spends £1.4bn a year and boasts four million supporters. "Politicians of whatever colour will listen because they know it is a powerful movement of people," he says.

Bond scored a victory recently when all parties agreed to dedicate a day of the coming election campaign to international development.

An election manifesto, Vote Global, has also been produced, endorsed by more than 100 Bond members. Bond has a tricky role in establishing positions all its members can agree on. Vote Global outlines "floor" positions on issues such as climate change or HIV/Aids, and individual members are free to go much further. But Roseveare says Bond does not want to present lowest-common-denominator proposals. "We try to say: 'Is that brave enough? Are those positions strong enough? Let's make sure we are not sinking to where we can comfortably agree.'"

Bond members have also given the umbrella body a licence to hold up a mirror to the sector and challenge its performance, says Roseveare.

Bond is to begin peer review of its statement of principles, which covers transparency, accountability, fundraising standards and a commitment to participatory forms of development. All members must sign when they join, but at present none are questioned about their adherence to it. The statement of principles might also been rewritten to make it sharper and easier to understand. "When a collective reputation is at risk, it's the collective's responsibility to have a say in protecting it," says Roseveare.

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