Jon Barrick takes his leave of Stroke Association

Charities should be business-like without being driven by for-profit ideology, believes the outgoing chief executive

John Barrick
John Barrick

The sector's greatest asset has always been its people. There's a great emphasis on professionalism, but the best people I've worked with were cause-driven as well as professional. We often work where there is no profit, so assessment of our effectiveness has to be based on impact beyond finance.

Unfortunately, too many third sector organisations are now judged on how they fit in with financial regimes and the marketplace. We should be business-like without being driven by for-profit ideology. On the positive side, trusteeship has improved because of a greater emphasis on diversity, skill and competence, limited terms and better induction and support.

I cannot turn my back on the sector entirely. I want to be a volunteer, mentor and trustee, and to write a book on how to become and operate as a charity chief.

Jon Barrick

I have spent 26 years in the voluntary sector, first at the RNIB, the last 12 as chief executive of the Stroke Association, where a growth in turnover from £10m to nearly £40m demanded huge organisational change. Quality, IT, finance, HR, fundraising, communications, services and research activity have evolved to meet new challenges, and the dedication and flexibility of colleagues has been fundamental to our success.

Without the association, we would not have the stroke units, stroke rehabilitation and stroke research that save hundreds of thousands of lives. The UK's stroke strategies evolved largely from campaigning activity based on our 2005 manifesto. I am saddened by those who say charities should not campaign - we earn the right to comment on policy and encourage more effective implementation through our experience and understanding of the issues.

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