The year in management: 2010

Third Sector news editor Andy Ricketts reviews the main developments in management over the past 12 months

Cuts dominated the management stories covered by Third Sector in 2010. A slew of major third sector organisations, including the NCVO, Navca, and Volunteering England, announced plans to lose large chunks of their workforce because of swingeing cuts in public funding.

At the same time data emerged showing that the sector's workforce had been growing steadily. Unpublished figures, produced by the NCVO for the training body Skills – Third Sector, showed that the number of staff in the voluntary sector was still rising in the second quarter of 2009, when gross domestic product had its largest decline.

No figure was given for the total workforce at that point, and the most recent total is 668,000 in April 2008, given by the NCVO's UK Civil Society Almanac 2010, published in April. However, figures from the Charity Finance Directors' Group, published in the same month, showed three in 10 respondents to its survey had made redundancies because of the recession.

Other research indicated that large charities are seen as more wasteful and have a poorer understanding of their beneficiaries than small ones. A poll by the consultancy nfpSynergy showed that 51 per cent of people it polled said the statement "they are often wasteful in how they spend money" applied to charities with annual incomes of more than £10m. Only 6 per cent said the statement was true for charities with incomes of less than £1m a year. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they believed small charities were good at understanding the needs of their beneficiaries and 35 per cent said the same of large charities.

Charities also battled grassroots rebellion. The MS Society was taken to task by a section of supporters who disagreed with its decision to pull out of providing respite care at four centres, putting 380 jobs at risk. Disappointed supporters proposed a vote of no confidence in the board over the plans, but the motion was defeated at the charity's annual general meeting.

Disgruntled former volunteers of the Alzheimer's Society in Sunderland launched a rival voluntary organisation in October in protest at a restructure that they claimed made the society too centralised.

The year was bookended by new versions of the Compact. A revised version of the document, which sets out how the public and voluntary sectors should treat each other, was released at the end of 2009. Another version appeared at the back end of this year. Nick Hurd, the minister for civil society, promised that new measures in the document, including giving ombudsmen the power to investigate and report on alleged breaches, would provide an unprecedented level of scrutiny for the Compact.


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