Stone King debate questions the future of charities as we know them

National law firm Stone King is asking if the traditional charity model can survive into the future as part of a high profile debate. On 16 October, prominent charity and social enterprise experts will cut to the heart of the sector and present their cases for and against the motion: ‘to be, or not to be (a registered charity), that is the question’.

The traditional model of charity is built on the principle of philanthropy; people donate what they can and charities use these funds to achieve charitable impact. Their business model is designed to operate with caution, not taking risks, whilst being run as close to a deficit as is possible. But what is the alternative?

Many “traditional” for profit businesses now aim to make a positive impact, rather than just focussing on growth and increasing shareholder value. Changes in technology and society have enabled this to happen, creating a broad range of social enterprises that are able to have a social purpose, whilst also creating wealth.

In a speech soon after her appointment, Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said “People can find other ways to do good that do not depend on registered charities”, concluding: “We cannot assume that the concept of the registered charity remains the primary vehicle through which people express their charitable instincts into the future”.

The leading charity and public benefit firm has put together a panel from across the third sector to explore this premise, chaired by Baroness Pitkeathley, President of NCVO.

The debate will feature a panel of six. Children England’s Chief Executive Kathy Evans and Rosie Chapman, Chair of the Charity Governance Code Steering Group, will put forward the case for charities. Arguing that the sector can deliver impact through other vehicles will be ACEVO Chief Executive Vicky Browning and Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch 22. Stone King Consultant Jonathan Burchfield and Partner Julian Blake will join the panel making the case ‘to be’, and ‘not to be’, respectively. Jonathan Bland, of Social Business International and E3M and the founding CEO of Social Enterprise UK, will introduce the debate and add contextual comment.

The debate will consider whether the future of the sector should remain dependant on a model of pure philanthropy, or whether the focus should shift to social enterprises that deliver impact through a sustainable business with increasing influence into the mainstream business sector.

The debate is taking place from 3.30pm at One Birdcage Walk in London. Tickets are available from Stone King’s website.

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