OPINION: Thinkpiece - Moving on and taking a look back in wonder

Les Jones, the outgoing deputy chief executive of WWF-UK

I have worked in the sector full time for well over seven years, but at the end of 2003 I will be leaving my job with WWF-UK. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on the sector.

First and foremost, my attitude is still one of overriding wonder at the rich diversity and sheer humanity of the work we do.The more I come into contact with different charities, the more inspired I am by the people who work in them. Every now and again we should all give each other a big pat on the back.

We also deserve the occasional pat on the back from government. It needs us to deliver services in a way no official body possibly could - we are welcomed into homes, when others are not. I know we deliver cost-effective services in a unique way and I know we prick the consciences of government and often save it from itself on a range of issues.

One way in which this Government could immediately repay the debt would be to give us our VAT back. Another would be to ensure we have the promised Charity Bill converted into an Act before the next election.

Turning to what the sector needs to do, I believe it needs to set a clear example. We have to be ahead of the game with ethical investment. Similarly, we should care for the environment in carrying out our own actions and we must always demonstrate social responsibility.

We also need to embrace the Strategy Unit Report's demands for transparent information. Donors must be able to see how their donations are spent.

Bodies like the Charity Finance Directors Group have taken up the challenge and I am sure things will improve.

So all that is left for me to say is good luck to all who are engaged in the most wonderful endeavour of all - being charitable. I know you will all succeed and I will always remain, in some way or other, part of the charity sector.

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