Mission purposeful

Think tank: Pro Bono Economics

Author(s): Pro Bono Economics

January 22, 2024

This report from UK think tank Pro Bono Economics explores what a relationship reset between government and the charity sector might look like under a future Labour government.

This work was made possible by a grant from the Charities Aid Foundation.

Charities drive the nation’s sense of purpose. The hundreds of thousands of charities, community organisations and faith groups that make up Britain’s civil society play a unique role in supporting national wellbeing. They combine the agility and responsiveness of the private sector with the purpose and passion of the public sector. Freed from the short-term pressures of shareholder meetings and opinion polls, they can also provide a focus on long-term and often difficult structural change that is in short supply in much of the UK’s political and business discourse.

Moreover, charities hold a unique position of trust among those who feel isolated and marginalised. They provide a route back in for those who struggle to put their trust in the state or feel disconnected from public services and they have the patience and persistence required to meet the toughest of challenges. By drawing in staff and volunteers from the communities they work with, charitable organisations are also often uniquely able to respond to the needs of the groups they serve. They understand hyper-localised context but can make connections across geographies and across institutions. They are highly practised at joining the dots between services, helping to make multi-agency approaches work and finding alternatives when they don’t.

As the world becomes more complex, so the importance of ensuring civil society is woven tightly into the nation’s social and economic fabric grows.