Foundations back inquiry into the future of civil society

29 Jul 2016 News

A group of charitable funders including the Baring Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust  and Lankelly Chase have provided support to an independent inquiry into the future of civil society.

The inquiry will be chaired by the chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Julia Unwin (pictured) and will begin work next year.

The inquiry, coordinated by the Baring Foundation, aims to “provide a clear vision for the role of civil society in England over the next ten years”, according to a briefing by the Barring Foundation.

Specifically, it will consider the “changing nature of civil society and its prospects”; “investigate how to maximise the positive effects of civil action” and “provide a road map as to how to realise these opportunities”.

The briefing said: “Civil society is notoriously difficult to define. We would expect a broad definition to be used, along the lines of, individuals coming together, independently of the state, to address social and environmental issues.

It will also look at the “preponderance of small and medium sized charities” and social enterprises.  

It also announced that NCVO has offered £100,000 in kind to the project to help with research. A brief of the inquiry by the Barring Foundation said further research may be required on top of NCVO’s offer and the brief for the methodology will be determined by Unwin with the support of the inquiry’s secretariat.

The consortium of funders include the Barrow Cadbury Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian  Foundation ( UK Branch ), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Lankelly Chase, Lloyds Bank Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

A total of £500,000 has been fundraised to pay for the inquiry.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, a spokesman for Lankelly Chase said “the time is right for a future facing, searching and broad look at the potential for civil society’s contribution over the next decade or more”.

“We are delighted that Julia Unwin has agreed to chair the Inquiry when she steps down from her role as chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation at the end of this year.

“We now need to appoint a secretariat of the highest quality for this important initiative”.

Tenders for the position of secretariat are being invited by 19 September and should be sent to the Baring Foundation.

The inquiry is set to launch early next year, after its chair Julia Unwin leaves her current post as chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The first phase of the inquiry will be published in January 2018.

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