In these days of outsourcing, more and more public bodies are looking at cost effective ways of delivering services. Sometimes this involves contracting out services to Third Sector organisations (which include charities, social enterprises and other not for profit organisations).
However, one of the main obstacles is the perception that "charities" are old-fashioned, not professional and only here to help the "poor and needy". A lot of work has been done by the Third Sector to combat this negative perception. Third Sector organisations have had to be innovative, professional and provide good value for money in order to secure funding. How often do we read that funders are looking for new and innovative ways of doing things? Third Sector organsiations have had to adapt to the ever changing needs of society and the plethora of funders. Partners in the statutory sector are now also being challenged with the changing attitudes to funding. More and more I hear from statutory partners "we can only get funding for this for X years". Gone are the days of funding something forever!! Well, this is how we in the Third Sector have had to work for years and years.....welcome to the real world where funding is measured against outcomes.
Our statutory partners can learn a lot from the Third Sector. From my experience, a good Third Sector organisation brings added value to services, provides services at a cost effective level and brings creativity and innovation into the market. I know that statutory bodies have a legal obligation to provide some services. However, some services are discretionary - if they are really looking to provide citizens with the best possible service at a cost effective price, perhaps more consideration should be given to outsourcing - this doesn't mean that all non-statutory services should be outsourced, but other providers should be able to compete on the same level with the statutory providers to deliver those non-statutory services.
My organsiation works well with our statutory partners. There is a high level of respect, an openess of dialogue but more importantly, a desire to work together to provide better services. Lets hope this continues for the benefit of all.