Charities must “up our game” in response to criticism in the media, but also make sure they challenge “unfair criticism” when it emerges, the chief executive of Girlguiding UK said last night.
Julie Bentley (pictured) was speaking at charity think tank NPC’s summer reception, where she spoke about the increasing scrutiny and pressure that the sector is under, and said that charities had been “finding it difficult to know what to do”.
She said that the sector has “changed immensely in the last 20 years” and is “increasingly delivering complicated public sector”. But that one of the problems with the sector has last year when fundraising was criticised was that the public did not understand that money was paying to support the delivery of “complicated public services”
She said that new technology added to the levels of scrutiny as people are “find out about our charity and about us as individuals”. She said while this made the organisations “vulnerable” it was also an “opportunity” to engage with people.
“I don’t think it is all unfair scrutiny,” she said. “We have to be accountable to beneficiaries, those that support us and to the general public.”
“Some scrutiny is legitimate – many of us have to up our game, and I count myself and my organisation in that.”
But when scrutiny is unfair charities should “confront and challenge” it. She said that where it appears that where it looks an attempt to “silence” a charity “it is the right time to say ‘hold on, not that’s not right’”.
Bentley also said it important for the sector be accountable, transparent and demonstrate impact.
“We need to show transparently how we spending our money and where the money is coming from in the first place,” she said.