Charities are part of the “public realm” and are therefore “automatically accountable to the public for how we behave”, Kathy Evans told the Charity Finance Summit yesterday.
Evans, chief executive of Children England, said that charities are “public in all that we do” despite not being part of the public sector.
She called on charities to “reclaim that sheer breadth and scale of that role that we play in the public realm”.
Evans said: “We have to take responsibility for what the whole public realm is looking like and feeling like, not just what our individual organisations are doing. The public realm is society’s ecosystem. We are intrinsically and unavoidably part of that ecosystem.
“That doesn’t make us automatically good, it doesn’t make us automatically bad, but it does make us automatically responsible and accountable to the public for how we behave.”
‘Marketplace not working’
Evans said the marketisation of public service commissioning in recent years has had a “profound effect” on the charity sector.
She said the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion earlier this year was proof that the commissioning model was unsustainable but called on the sector to lead on designing a new model.
“We can’t wait for government to realise that and lead the change. We have to take responsible for changing the game ourselves.”
Evans also said that an increasing number of Children England member charities were refusing to take on contracts on the terms they were being offered, only for the commissioning organisation to then offer better terms.
“Terms that are better described as a partnership, not a sales pitch,” she said.