Fiona Jeffery: Role of Businesses and Charities

Atta Industry Relations Director and Just a Drop’s Founder and Chairman, Fiona Jeffery OBE, reflects on the demise of Kids Company and demystifies some of the misconceptions surrounding the charity sector. 

What lessons can we all learn from Kids Company?

It’s sad what has happened to high profile charity Kids Company. But the bottom line is, charities are businesses, and must be properly managed; equally there isn’t enough recognition or appreciation in the business world of the massive challenges faced by the third sector and, most importantly, how both can support and add value to each other.

Having sat on both sides of the fence I would like to demystify some preconceptions.

The charity sector has been criticised over the years for not being “professional”. There is some truth in this, however like all industry sectors it has changed. Today many people choose a career with a “not for profit” over the financially more lucrative “private” sector. Some of the large charities (which can be criticised for this) are major national and multinational operations, large businesses in their own right. To operate effectively it is right that this involves the recruitment of quality people paid a fair wage for a fair level of responsibility.

You cannot expect any organisation to be professionally run without professional people. However the “Not for Profit” sector is generally regarded as “less important” than the private sector carrying less esteem or respect and therefore expected to command lower salaries. Why should this be when the stakes, as evidenced by Kids Company’s, are so enormously high?

The failure rate in business last year was 212,081, the number of charities “removed” out of a total of 164,097 registered with the Charity Commission last year was 4,303.

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