Charities need an innovation fund worth at least £50m, says Barnardo's boss

01 Jul 2020 News

Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo's

A national fund for encouraging innovation by charities would need at least £50m in public funding, according to Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan.

Khan, who first proposed the creation of a government-backed innovation fund for the sector in May, gave more details of the plan in an interview for July’s Charity Finance magazine, published by Civil Society Media.

The initial government investment could pave the way for additional private donors, he said.

‘Adapt and innovate’

Khan suggested that the government should supply between £50m and £100m to open a charity innovation fund, which he described as “pretty small fry in the scale of things at the moment” amid the coronavirus response.

He also argued that, so long as the fund could be shown to be successful, investment would also be attractive to private philanthropists.

Khan said: “So long as you can articulate what you are going to do with [their cash], who it is going to have an impact upon, and that you are going to do it as effectively as possible, I think the corporate donors are out there who want to be part of something like this.”

Intellectual property

Khan suggested that charities could use the fund on the condition that they shared intellectual property rights over any innovations they developed.

He said: “As the money will be coming from government, the products which will be developed by us or anyone else should then be available to all, so the intellectual property should be fully available to all providers.”

The new normal

Earlier this year, Khan announced plans for Barnardo’s to create its own foundation based inside the charity, which would fund its own projects and would be open to applications from other voluntary organisations.

“Charities just will not survive this crisis if they do not adapt and innovate,” Khan told Charity Finance. “Going backwards is not an option.”

He added: “The new normal which comes out the other side of this is not simply going back to the way it was.”

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