Charity sector leaders responded to the election result, which has seen the Conservatives become the largest party in a hung parliament, by reminding the next government to listen to the sector and urging charities to look at ways they could influence the next government.
NCVO: ‘Wilson was instrumental in fundraising changes’
In a blog on NCVO’s website, Sir Stuart Etherington said Rob Wilson, who lost his Reading East seat in the election, was “instrumental in helping to achieve a sensible solution to the problems in fundraising that came to the fore in 2015. Through this, I believe his legacy will include helping to strengthen trust in charities”.
He said he hoped “we can continue his work with the next government, to make sure the expertise of charities, and smaller charities in particular, can be called on to strengthen our public services”.
Etherington also said that: “The work of the many charities which have used the election as an opportunity to raise the profile of their issues. We are among those who have concerns about the Lobbying Act and we will continue to push for the new government to implement the Lord Hodgson reform proposals. But as many strong campaigns from charities showed, it needn’t be a barrier to making your voice heard.”
Acevo: ‘We have an opportunity to shape the future’
Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “Our politicians are facing some very hard decisions. But this election has shown that all groups of society are engaged, want to have a stake in our future and need to be considered.
“Civil society is one of the key ways people engage with creating change. And civil society leaders now have an opportunity to help shape the future of our country. Charities should not shy away from speaking out as a new government forms.
“When this election was called ACEVO asked all parties to commit to public services that consider social, as well as economic value, for significant reform of the Lobbying Act and for meaningful engagement with charities as we exit the European Union.
“We stand by these requests. But, at present and above all, we call on all our leaders to remember the value of inclusion.”
On the departure of Rob Wilson she added: “We would like to thank Rob for all his important and diligent work as minister for civil society over the past three years. He has overseen a difficult period for charities, and his efforts to promote and support the sector have been appreciated. We wish Rob well with whatever he does in the future.
“Once a new government is established, it should look to fill this brief as soon as possible. Charities and social enterprises are the backbone of our society and ought not to be left long without representation at the highest level of government. We look forward to working with the new minister for civil society once appointed.”
CFG: ‘We need a new vision for charity sector as a key partner’
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive, Charity Finance Group said: “If the recent past has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. It is important that all parties act responsibly and try to create a stable government to deal with the significant challenges that lay ahead.
“None of the parties had a particularly compelling offer that focussed on charities. It is important in the wake of this result that all sides go back to the drawing board to develop a big, bold, positive vision for the country that has the charity sector as a key partner.
“To charities we say: don’t be paralysed by this result. A hung parliament will create uncertainty, but that is our prompt to step up and provide proposals to government. We know that charities will continue to be asked to meet the needs of our society and we should be bold in putting forward policies that break down the barriers to us being as effective as possible.
“It is clear that there was a huge turnout of young people in this election. We know that young people are more interested in seeing social change and if politicians want to build bridges with this part of the electorate and meet their expectations, they need to back the charity sector and our work.”
IoF: ‘The next government should help small charities with fundraising’
Peter Lewis, chief executive of The Institute of Fundraising, said: “The British public know they can always rely on civil society at times of political turbulence, and fundraisers will continue to raise vital money to support its work.
“It will take time before the shape of a new government becomes clear, but when it does, we believe that strengthening and supporting charity fundraising, especially smaller charities and support for legacy giving, should be at the heart of their approach to partnership with charities around the UK.”
CAF: ‘Charities have greater support than politicians’
John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “This astonishing election result shows how divided our country is on a huge range of issues. What is good is these tumultuous times have inspired more people to get involved in politics. More people are turning out to vote, and we know from our own research that more people are becoming engaged in campaigns and issues.
“In such uncertain times, politicians and all of us should remember the huge forces that hold us together. Political parties should do what we in charities would do: bring people together and find ways to work together on behalf of the people they represent and everyone in our society.
“It is worth remembering that charities continue to enjoy greater support than any political party. It’s charities that are strong and stable, working for the many not the few. The MPs and ministers reeling from last night’s results should remember that, and listen. Elections might be brutal, but whatever happens to politicians, charities still remain relevant the morning after.”
On Rob Wilson losing his seat he added: “I would also like to thank Rob Wilson for his hard work as minister for civil society. Rob’s commitment to the National Citizen Service has helped to create opportunities for thousands of young people to experience social action, and his support for the #givingtuesday campaign has helped it become established as the biggest international day of giving. We wish him and his family all the best for the future, and look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with his successor.”
NPC: ‘Charities need to harness the enthusiasm of young people’
Patrick Murray, head of policy and external affairs at NPC, said: “The British people have spoken and yet again the only certainty is uncertainty. The public's mood remains volatile, and one of the stories of the election appears to be mobilised young people demanding change in their communities. Charities will need to think through what this means for them, and how they can harness this enthusiasm.
“A hung parliament means charities will have to see how events unfold over the next few days. But we do know that the sector will be dealing with new ministers after Rob Wilson and others across government lost their seats. We will also likely see a government that needs to reach out and build a broader base of support for its policies. The sector should face these challenges head on. As the next days, weeks and months progress, charities need to be bold and ensure their voices are heard in order to productively shape what comes next."
Small Charities Coalition: ‘It’s time to speak up’
John Barrett, chief executive of SCC, said: “Small charities are the lifeblood of our communities and we need to ensure that they are heard and responded to. Whilst the election result has increased political uncertainty, it is also an opportunity. This is a time for organisations speak up about the big issues they face and their vision for a better future.
"We encourage small charities to make contact with elected members, whether arranging a meeting or visit with their local MP or engaging with political parties as this new government is formed. We also encourage all MPs to engage with these admirable organisations.
"At Small Charities Coalition, we will continue to champion small charities’ voices, and the value of the voluntary sector, to ensure the systems they operate in let them get on with their vital work.”
DSC: 'Government needs a strong voluntary sector'
Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research, said: "We could wind up with a minority government, a coalition government, or even another election! Whatever the outcome, it’s obviously vital that the country has a functioning national government that can tackle some big issues like social care, security, social cohesion, health, and of course Brexit – none of which can be effectively addressed without a strong and supported voluntary sector.
"It’s vital that whatever government we eventually get looks to charities and wider civil society for answers. It needs to be a listening, engaging government. Such massive challenges simply can’t be overcome with a ‘government knows best’ approach. How quickly – and indeed whether – the charities minister post is replaced, and by whom, will signal how serious they are about doing this."