Who should pay for the voluntary sector?
Watching the widespread news coverage this week about the closure of Kids Company gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect about some of the core 'business principles' operated within Change Grow Live (CGL) since I joined in 1999. 'Finance first' has been a guiding business principle for all Change Grow Live managers.
I make no comment about Kids Company and do not have any insights into the internal operating of that charity, its management, nor its governance.
However from our perspective:
- as a charity, Change Grow Live has no statutory "right" to exist
- we are in the privileged position of having public money invested in us through contracts, grants and donations. This is a privilege not to be taken lightly.
- it is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure that money is spent wisely to meet commissioners requirements and service user needs
- therefore we must continue to be creative, flexible and focus on ensuring that as much of our resources as possible are spent on service delivery and the needs of our beneficiaries
- we need to maintain an infrastructure that enables not only the delivery of our services, but also makes best use of the resources available to us
- we should continue to grow our financial reserves to ensure organisational stability and enable investment in new services
In my view, retaining this discipline creates the structure and environment through which our teams can practice their vocation and deploy their skills - in helping people to transform their lives for the better.
It is a great democratic right and luxury that establishing a charity is fairly straightforward in the UK and there is a debate to be had about how many exist to deliver broadly similar services. When organisations become consumed with self-preservation as an end, they are already running the risk of failing their clients.