Force all umbrella bodies to merge into one, conference hears

14 Oct 2016 News

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of The British Asian Trust

There are far too many umbrella bodies in the sector and they should be replaced by just one, an audience of charity leaders heard earlier this week.

Both Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust (pictured) and Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, also said that they believe there are too many charities in the voluntary sector, and that too many are interested in self-preservation rather than making a difference.

Both men were speaking at NPC’s Ignites conference in London yesterday. 

In his closing plenary address, Hawkes cited Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, who recently said that there are currently 800 voluntary sector infrastructure bodies in the UK, a figure Etherington himself said was too high. 

Hawkes agreed and said “I don’t know what the perfect number is but I’d suspect it’s probably closer to one, rather than 800”. 

“It’s got to change, but many organisations are members of these bodies, or have staff who are. Currently if you look at the sector we’ve got an association of chairs which is changing its chair, an association of chief executives changing its chief executive, a fundraising regulator looking at the best use of funds while it pays its trustees.

"NCVO – who are saying there are too many umbrella bodies – didn’t even talk to Acevo who were in the same building as them for five years.

“Personally I’d recommend getting rid of 799 of these bodies and replacing them with just one, with different departments and divisions within it”. 

Hawkes also said that too many individual organisations within the sector “keep existing for the sake of existing” and said that individual organisations don’t matter beyond the wider goal of making the world a better place. 

“Our sector shouldn’t be about self-preservation of organisations. Individual organisations don’t matter, we’re not about protecting organisations – we should be about protecting our mission and thinking about the outcomes that are required by our beneficiaries. 

“Too often organisations keep existing for the sake of existing. Not necessarily the individuals within those organisations, but the organisations themselves who just self-perpetuate”.

Adamson also said that there “are far too many charities”, and urged the sector to instead focus on ways to “broaden alliances and collaboration to achieve as much impact as we possibly can”. 


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