Listen: What if we could start from scratch?

What would we do differently?

In this podcast, Dan Corry chats with Ollie Guillou about how our sector could look if we could start all over again.

Dan and Ollie reflect on how the Covid-19 pandemic forced the sector to do things differently, the structural issues and incentives that make change difficult, and the potential to achieve more by working together.

Listen below:


On the pandemic:

  • Because it just got on with it, because it was a crisis, the sector did a lot of things it’s never done before which were really good. Let’s not dump them when the pandemic is over.
  • The sector, driven by passion which is a great thing, is not as good at being driven by evidence and data, and that’s both in terms of identifying need and trying to understand what’s working. That changed a lot during Covid.
  • People collaborated a lot more, with each other, with local authorities, and amongst funders.
  • As the crisis hit, the government did look to the sector, particularly some of the big charities who were very good at making sure vulnerable people were looked after. But charities found the government was not really up to speed with what they did and the reach they had. The charities also didn’t know who to speak to within government because the relationships weren’t there. So I hope both sides realised they need a different type of relationship.

On working with government:

  • We’ll always need a charity sector. If you look at countries with a very small civil society it creates problems. You don’t have the independent voice and you don’t have pluralist debates about different ways of solving social problems.
  • Charities do things differently that the state can’t. Like working one-on-one based on trust.
  • Charities are more likely to take a risk and try something out.
  • The Big Society came across badly. It felt like “we’re about to cut spending so you have to fill the gap”. People got angry about that.
  • Levelling Up is all about physical infrastructure. Areas also need an active social sector at the community level and the government is just not putting the money in for that sort of thing.

On trust:

  • Restricted funding is not a good way of solving the trust problem. If you find a charity you trust, let them decide how to spend it.
  • When you give, think harder about the impact that charity has rather than just that they have a great advert. It’s difficult but try to find out more about what the charity does.

On working together:

  • Charities should see themselves as part of a bigger whole, working together, sharing information, and achieving a lot more.
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