CFG Annual Conference 2013 opening plenary speaker Matthew Taylor hints at his upcoming speech…

May 2, 2013 at 07:53

It is always dangerous for me to describe what I plan to say in a speech ahead of delivering it. As my father once said to me ‘I don’t know what I think until I hear myself say it’.

When I was asked to speak at the CFG conference, the organisers referred to a blog post I had written on farming. In this I had argued that interest groups – like the farming lobby – often face a choice between three types of narrative: ‘we’re facing crisis’; ‘we’re being faced with a crucial/terrible choice’; or ‘we are the best answer to today’s problems’. I urged famers to choose the third road. But I also argued that this is the hardest choice. Not only is it the least intrinsically newsworthy but, more than the others, it puts the onus on the advocate of the argument. Why are we the best answer and, if we are making this claim, can we live up to it?

I advocate the same broad narrative for the third sector but I also think we need to identify the things charities need to do if their argument that they are best suited to meet today’s challenges are to hold water. Things like:

Being impact focussed and research driven

  • On the upside being entrepreneurial at grabbing opportunities
  • On the downside being disciplined and brave in making hard choices
  • Exploiting our unique strengths (responsiveness to the communities we serve, volunteers)
  • Managing our recurrent weaknesses (cumbersome governance, misalignment of mission and fund raising)
  • Being collaborative and generous
  • As leaders seeking not just to lead our charities but to be part of leadership in our sector

These are the key points I will elaborate upon on May 8th. On the other hand……