NPC to be less 'aloof' and foster closer relationship with charities, its chair says

Vaughan Lindsay, who became chair of the think tank last year, tells Third Sector about its new strategy

Vaughan Lindsay, chair of NPC
Vaughan Lindsay, chair of NPC

The charitable think tank NPC plans to be less "aloof" and more focused on issues the charity sector finds important, its new chair, Vaughan Lindsay, has told Third Sector.

Lindsay, who has worked in both the charity sector and the private sector for many years, including at Shelter and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said that as part of a new strategy NPC would focus on four areas: digital, place-based working, user involvement and systems change.

The think tank will also concentrate on four topic areas it believes it can have the greatest impact on: health, homelessness, criminal justice and prisons, and children and young people.

Lindsay, who was appointed chair of NPC last year, said the think tank had been accused of being too "aloof and institutional", but it would change its approach to foster a closer relationship with the charity sector more generally. This would focus less on the organisations themselves and more on their work and impact, he said. 

"Too often we have thought about, for example, homelessness organisations rather than homeless people," Lindsay said.

"So I think increasingly I am encouraging the mindset of thinking about the ultimate impact, not just the organisations we are trying to help.

"We have the luxury of having that overarching view of the sector where we can think about things more broadly, see what works in different sub-sectors and see what is working in other sectors, and bring that knowledge to bear."

There will also be a change in the think tank’s communications to be less "abstract", Lindsay said.

He said the strategy would come to fruition in the next six to 18 months, although NPC’s leadership, think tank and consultancy work would continue.

Lindsay also told Third Sector that the charity sector was increasingly focused on partnership working with the private and public sector, and the new strategy at NPC is about "how to position ourselves to be the convenor that brings together these different sectors to solve some of these problems through a more partnership approach".

He said: "The problems you are trying to solve are big and complex, and actually you need the best of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to solve them," said Lindsay.

"It is not just the domain of the not-for-profit sector – they simply don’t have the resources to solve the scale of some of these problems."

The choice of the four areas NPC is now focusing on was about looking at areas where it could have value "in a way that others would struggle to do", Lindsay said, especially given its independence from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

This meant that NPC could represent the sector, he said, but with more freedom to "be a provocateur" and think creatively about the issues facing the sector.

"We are not a chattel of government, we are not a membership organisation and we are not dependent on private sector finance," Lindsay said.

"We can genuinely bring private actors together in the public, private and charity sectors."

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