Thursday, September 18, 2008

Watching our Weight

These are wild, wild days. The chaos we are saying in the financial markets chills my blood. The future feels blown open. Everything is set up around a benign economy. This includes the third sector wbich I fear is about to catch not only a cold but possibly, at worst case pneumonia. Grants depend on the markets. The public finances beyond 2010 will be ruinous. While there will be greater scope for third sector provision, I also fear the pressure we are going to endure on our public sector contracts. Councils in particular just pass pressure downwards. My darkest fear is the evisceration of high quality orgs (like SU) which cost more than the lo-cost-lo-quality outfits.

So what do we do as a sector? The first thing to do is to shape our organisations so they are ready for a tougher climate. More efficient, leaner and keener. If we are to avoid enforced cutbacks of a fairly brutal nature we have a year perhaps to make difficult decisions now.

We also have to be honest about our lack of efficiency. In the good times, organisations - public, private or third sector - get fat. In some cases obese.

By 2012 I think we will be living in a different world. Four years of low to no growth, desperate public finances and high rates could leave the sector in a parlous state unless we act. NOW.

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