We can do better. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and accelerated inequalities in our economy and society. As we build back, we are calling on people, business and government to give back better.
There is a long tradition in the UK, eroded perhaps in recent years, of generosity and of fair play, an ethic of doing good as well as doing well. With rising needs, the way to foster solidarity is to show how it can be effective.
At a local level, voluntary and community organisations have played a vital role over the pandemic, but with rare exceptions, they lack the stable funding and support that they need.
The infrastructure for voluntary action has been decimated. The scope to earn income has narrowed, with public service commissioning for example characterised by bureaucratic process and sudden death contracts. The sector is falling behind when it comes to professional skills including new fields of digital services. A new wave of activism is setting the challenge of dismantling the paternalistic and racist ways in which traditional charity has been delivered. And rather than fostering positive change across the sector, funding streams have encouraged a culture of competition rather than collaboration across charities, co-operatives and social enterprise.
We have to make it easier to do good. In line with the renewed interest in ‘effective altruism’, and in line with the voluntary sector campaign #NeverMoreNeeded and the wider call to ‘build back better’, we believe in the possibilities and the benefits of giving back better.
Our call to action from Pilotlight, to give back better, is to:
- Be generous, remembering that giving can be good for you
- Share skills, because it is not just money that makes a difference
- Back institutions and not just initiatives, because then change is lasting
- Think big and act small, recognising the social value of many smaller charities
- Encourage co-operation, because lasting change needs people to work together
- Give voice, supporting those with lived experience of poverty, disability or exclusion
- Follow the evidence not just your heart, because impact and evaluation matters.
What would you add? And how can you give back better?