NCVO champions the voluntary sector by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary organisations. In its January 2020 report, “The Road Ahead”, addressing what lay in store for the charity sector in the coming 12 months, NCVO focused on getting Brexit done but there was no mention of the pandemic that would soon change everything.

For the Road Ahead 2021, Covid-19 is all-pervasive, having accelerated society’s inequalities but also the move to digital and attempts to address the climate emergency. 

NCVO adopts a PESTEL analysis, looking at political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal drivers. As the authors say: "If in the past it has been useful reading for leaders in the sector, today it is essential. In response to sustained uncertainty, organisations will need to ensure they can be as responsive and adaptable as possible."

This is the first in a series of posts on some of the legal/governance implications of those drivers, starting with political ones.

The sector still senses indifference to charities from government, despite warm words to the contrary. Charities still need to make their case and show the difference they make, using gathered data (in accordance with GDPR, etc) and telling their stories well in their trustees’ annual reports. (We will come back to data in later posts.)

The outgoing Chair of the Charity Commission Baroness Stowell has warned charities not to divide people or to get involved in culture wars. Nevertheless, charities should not be afraid to campaign or be “political” as long as this is not party political and is in the context of supporting delivery of their charitable purposes. “Charities can challenge things, charities can shake things up, they can even change the world” – so said Baroness Stowell just a week ago.

And charities should make use of digital channels to engage with political decision-makers where appropriate (although perhaps not with Handforth Parish Council…)