Predictions for 2010: the general election looms large

A possible change of government, reductions in public spending and the need for increased collaboration are high on the list of concerns for the coming year among voluntary sector leaders

The general election is due by June this year
The general election is due by June this year

Andrew Hind, chief executive, Charity Commission

The recession will continue to pose challenges for many charities. In the run-up to the general election, we might also see charities playing a greater role than ever in campaigning around key aspects of public policy. It will be vitally important that they follow our guidance on what they can and cannot do in this area.

The role of the charity sector will continue to grow in importance, but public finances will be stretched, so charities will need to demonstrate their effectiveness. Also, public benefit reporting will help charities tell their stories and connect with the public in a clearer way than ever before.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive, NCVO

It's no secret that 2010 will be a challenging year for all of us, with constraints on public spending and the recession inevitably affecting donations. We will all need to work harder, with fewer resources.

The pressures of 2009 demonstrated how resilient our sector is. In particular, working more collaboratively or in partnership has enabled us to continue to support the people and communities that depend on us.

Whatever the outcome of the general election, there will be many new faces in Parliament. Politicians of all parties are talking about their commitment to the sector and we need to make the most of the opportunities this presents.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive, Acevo

There will be more recession pain, particularly for small community organisations, but the drive for the sector to become more efficient will gather pace. More organisations will merge, and partnerships will increase. The big issue is how public spending cuts will affect our ability to work with the most vulnerable people in society.

Other big changes for 2010 include the social investment bank, charities taking action on climate change and increasing volunteering opportunities for the unemployed. I also hope government will take action on Gift Aid for higher-rate taxpayers.

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact

All the major political parties understand that it would be impossible to deliver the Government's social and economic programmes without the third sector. The difficulty will be to reconcile this position with the need to reduce public expenditure, which is likely to affect the grants and contracts it gives to the third sector.

I believe 2009 reconfirmed that there is huge support for the Compact, but that its underpinning architecture needs changing. I hope this will be achieved during 2010.

Louise Richards, director of policy and campaigns, Institute of Fundraising 

Things are going to be tough, with National Insurance and VAT rises and public sector cuts. However, the sector is showing extraordinary resilience and determination. This, coupled with the British public's incredible generosity, has helped charities to weather the storm.

We hope that whoever wins the general election will quickly adopt measures to help the sector, such as reforming and simplifying Gift Aid. We are concerned that whoever wins will not see the sector as a priority, so we must continue to make our voices heard on this hugely important issue.

John Low, chief executive, Charities Aid Foundation

2010 will be a year of opportunity for nimble and innovative organisations, and one of wringing hands for those unwilling to seize the moment.

We will need to learn how to interact with and influence a very different type of government, whatever the results of the general election. If the sector fails to adapt to this new relationship it could, at worst, have a long experience in the wilderness.

The lessons from 2009 are that income falls and demand rises during a recession, and that influence with a government fades beyond the 10-year mark.

Kevin Curley, chief executive, Navca

There will be a continued rise in the idea of localism. The recession has accelerated the trend of people being a lot more interested in their locality. Charities, voluntary organisations and community groups need to plug into this feeling.

The past year has taught us the importance of planning and being able to adapt to changing circumstances. We have spent time talking to politicians of both major parties to ensure they understand the needs of local voluntary organisations and community groups.



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