On Thursday I was in Birmingham to take part in a meeting of the NCVO Members Assembly. The theme of the day was ‘responsible capitalism’ and we opened with a fascinating presentation from Michael Green, an economist who was formerly Head of Communications at the Department for International Development. Michael laid out the options for dealing with the “great vampire squid” of capitalism, urging the charity sector (particularly the charitable foundations) to become “activist investors”. Christine Berry from FairPensions – a charity which works to promote responsible investment by pension funds and other institutional investors – similarly talked about “leveraging the influence of shareholders to improve corporate behaviour”. The third speaker was Charlotte Gardiner, Policy Manager at NCVO, who talked about her role as a Board member of Enabling Enterprise – a Community Interest Company that helps young people develop their employability skills. In the interesting and wide-ranging discussion that followed there was much talk about the commercial sector wanting the voluntary sector to be more business-like. Ray Kipling thought we should be asking the commercial sector to be more voluntary sector-like. Ray, who used to work for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, asked how many commercial business could motivate a lot of people to go out late at night and face death? It was great to see a new North East region representative on the NCVO Members Assembly – Lisa Gardiner who some of you with very long memories will remember was the first Voluntary Arts England Information Officer. Lisa now works for North Tyneside VODA: it was lovely to see her again.
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