The question of who we—individuals and organisations working in the charity sector—ultimately serve appears at face value to be rhetorical. Charities exist to serve their beneficiaries—that is their charitable purpose. Yet the reality of fundraising charities’ existence is that to survive and thrive they have to raise money, and that means meeting their funders’ demands.
In a blog for the Stanford Social Innovation Review—Transforming Our Anti-Social Sector—I explore this tension and ask whether we need a complete transformation to truly focus on beneficiaries. I argue that on the face of it, many of the current behaviours in the charity sector appear to be driven by funders’ rather than beneficiaries’ needs. And if that’s the case, maybe there’s a danger that we actually work in an ‘anti-social sector’ where the beneficiary is not at the heart of everything we do.
I first outlined a fictional anti-social sector in a recent speech at the Measuring Social Outcomes conference in Melbourne, Australia, entitled Impact, Power and Social Change.
We’re running a series of events in New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco between 18-25 March 2014, which are free to join. And we’ll be writing more about the need for a paradigm shift, and NPC’s thinking on what it might take, in the near future.