Pond wades into performance measurement debate

Charities need to raise their game in the area of performance measurement if they are to justify Government investment in sector infrastructure, according to Chris Pond, chairman of Capacitybuilders.

Pond told the audience at Third Sector’s Britain’s Most Admired Charities awards last night that the “warm glow” charities get from doing their work was not enough to justify Capacitybuilders’ £30m budget from the Government.

“If the money only makes a difference to organisations and not at the front line, we will have failed,” he said. “We need world-class charities and social enterprises that can make a real difference to communities.”

However, Pond said he was sceptical about the need for an independent body to scrutinise charity performance, as suggested by New Philanthropy Capital’s Martin Brookes earlier this week.

Pond described the idea as heavy-handed and said that every charity needed to be improved in different ways. “It would be very difficult for an inspection agency to come in from outside and make sure improvement was being made across the board,” he said.

Pond, who was director of the Low Pay Unit during the Thatcher and Major years, also expressed his support for charities taking on greater campaigning roles and denied there could be a conflict with their increasing involvement in public service delivery.

He said: “Campaigning organisations automatically enhance their impact if they are engaged with the private and public sectors on the ground.”

Pond said campaigning charities should be prepared to change and even wind up when their goals had been achieved, as the Low Pay Unit had done after the Labour government brought in the minimum wage.

“Mergers, mainstreaming and ceasing to exist should all be seen as appropriate ways forward,” he said.

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