Management 2008: Our top stories of the year

Pressure for changing the Compact grew, the Shaw Trust was hit by high profile departures and Shelter was dogged by internal disputes. Tristan Donovan looks back at 2008’s top voluntary sector management stories.

Charity chief pay rises

The salaries of small charity chief executives is soaring and the pay gap between male and female charity heads is widening, a survey by chief executives body Acevo reported in November.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, called the growing gender pay gap "shameful".

However, Acevo's finding that small charity chief executives pay had grown by 23 per cent in the past year sparked a spate of critical letters to Third Sector pointing out that only 26 small charities were questioned for the research.

See: Survey shows surge in pay for chief executives of small charities; Gender gap widens in pay for the top job

Shelter dogged by union battles

Housing charity Shelter spent much of 2008 mired in battles with staff and unions over plans to change employee contracts.

The contracts, which increased working hours and ended incremental pay rises, prompted a series of strikes by staff. Labour MP John McDonnell even threatened to highlight the dispute in Parliament if it wasn't resolved.

Then, just as that row began to settle, Shelter faced a new battle with the union Unite about the size of its cost of living increases to salaries. To cap off a bad year, Shelter announced in October it was cutting 43 jobs to try reduce its £2m deficit.

See: A quarter of Shelter staff yet to sign new contracts; MP urges an end to Shelter dispute; Another Unite row looms for Shelter; Shelter to cut more than 40 jobs

Shaw Trust managers fall out over Australia plans

The Shaw Trust was rocked in the summer when Ian Charlesworth, its managing director, left the organisation suddenly after objecting to plans to expand its services into Australia.

Charlesworth responded by asking the Charity Commission to investigate the trust's finance and governance arrangements and filing a grievance against his former bosses.

Julie Currin, chief finance officer, at the trust, also left after expressing doubts about the Australian plans. The trust abandoned its overseas expansion shortly afterwards, blaming the economic slump.

See: Shaw Trust announces shock exit of its managing director; Australia expansion row with trustees led to Charlesworth's shock dismissal; Analysis: Finance director's resignation is latest blow to the Shaw Trust; Shaw Trust changes mind over controversial Australia plans

Mounting pressure for Compact overhaul

Sir Bert Massie became the new Commissioner for the Compact admitting that the agreement between government and the third sector may be in need of updating.

As the year continued, the Government faced mounting calls for the Compact to become legally-binding from the likes of umbrella bodies Acevo, the NCVO, Navca and Compact Voice.

On top of this, a poll by think tank nfpSynergy found that only a quarter of councillors, primary care trust and local authority workers believed the Compact had made a big difference to their relations with charities.

By December, new voluntary sector minister Kevin Brennan was agreeing that it would make sense for the Commission for the Compact to have the power to investigate breaches.

See: Compact Commission appoints Massie; Interview: Firming up the Compact; Compact needs legal teeth, sector chiefs tell Hope; Compact has 'had little impact'; Brennan backs 'more traction' for Compact

Concern about impact of safeguarding rules

The impact of new laws tightening the rules on who works with children or vulnerable adults began to be made clearer this year with the formation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

But while welcomed generally the laws, which come into effect in October next year, left charities concerned about the increased cost of carrying out checks and worried that organisations could rely too much on these checks when deciding who is and isn't suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.

See: News Analysis: Will the new vetting system help us?


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