The Leader2Leader network is the brainchild of Euclid, Acevo's European network. Filippo Addarii, head of Acevo's international programme, said the Italian third sector was huge but highly fragmented and not professional enough. He said: "There is a lack of leadership and a lot of pessimism. People are scared of new things."
He said the Italian equivalent of umbrella body the NCVO was not effective because it had been "kidnapped" by large charities. But he said Leader2Leader, which will be entirely independent of Acevo, was not ready to take on a rival representative role and would concentrate instead on professional development and knowledge-sharing. "As soon as you step into politics you become divisive," he said.
Alessandro Caspoli, chief executive of Franciscan charity Antoniano, said he was proud to be one of 30 sector leaders to have pledged to join Leader2Leader immediately. He said he hoped its English name would help it rise above Italian factionalism. "Italy is a country of many ideas but at the moment there is no possibility to unify them," he said.
The group's launch in Rome on 20 June will be attended by 100 people, including the Italian social affairs minister. It will incorporate a masterclass from Acevo staff including chief executive Stephen Bubb.
Addarii said similar leaders' groups were in the pipeline in Slovenia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Belgium.