Third Sector at Large: Nothing screams 'impact' like flashy cars and manure

Julian Corner, Sir Stephen Bubb as the sector's Jeremy Clarkson and the Chinese Red Cross are all on our minds this week

- A small speed hump was placed in the path of the impact bandwagon last week by Julian Corner, chief executive of the Lankelly Chase Foundation, which works on the social needs of the disadvantaged. At the launch of the Inspiring Impact Group, when a "decade of high impact" was proclaimed, he asked mildly whether a disproportionate emphasis was being put on making the voluntary sector prove its effective use of the "quite small amount of money" society gave to it. What about direct government spending? To his credit, Gareth Davies of the Office for Civil Society put his hands up to that one: only 5 to 10 per cent of government spending was properly scrutinised, he said. But the bandwagon will no doubt fly over this minor obstacle. The Social Impact Analysts Association has also just been launched, and it's getting hard not to feel a bit impacted out.

- Lively discussion at a sector conference last week about using the law to challenge local authority cuts. The law isn't the only way, one participant suggested darkly: you could chain yourself to the railings or dump manure on the council leader's drive. Oh yes, manure, piped up a voice from an environmental charity - we can supply plenty of that. But before plans could really develop, someone remembered the press was present and everyone calmed down a bit.

- Postscript to Sir Stephen Bubb's reference to Kevin Curley's "sub-prime Marxism": the light-hearted response from Curley's people is that Bubb is, "in a sense, the sector's Jeremy Clarkson". That can't be completely right, though: he's never learnt to drive, preferring as an (erstwhile) man of the people to use public transport. So we're never going to have the pleasure of seeing him screaming and whooping behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

- Or leaning against the bonnet of a white Maserati, for that matter - an activity that appears to be partly behind the reported 80 per cent fall in donations in China in the three months to August. The most high-profile of recent scandals came, says The Daily Telegraph, when a young woman called Guo Meimei was pictured on the internet in the aforesaid pose, apparently claiming to be commercial general manager of the Chinese Red Cross. Swift denial from the charity, but a businessman who allegedly bought her the car resigned from a company that helped organise fundraising drives for it. Now why don't exciting things like that happen in boring old Britain?

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