CEO of The Wheel Explains How a "Lack of Shared Vision" is Inhibiting CV Sector
Speaking at The Wheel's annual conference yesterday, Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel told the Irish Times of the "increasing difficulties" being confronted by Irish community and voluntary organisations in advocating for social and political change.
The conference, which had a theme of 'Innovate, Inspired, Involve', focussed largely on the increasing pressure on organisations to demonstrate their effectiveness (i.e. their value for money) to funders, as well as what solutions may exist.
“It underlines the importance for the voluntary sector of not being a victim to these cuts, but of taking charge of the situation..."
"Most charities know well the importance of their work to society. However, many struggle to measure, evaluate and communicate their impact. As a consequence the value of their work is not fully understood and appreciated," Ms Garvey said.
Ms Garvey went on to further outline the "hugely disproportionate hit", in terms of funding, that the Irish community and voluntary sector has suffered over the past three years, amounting to as much as 30% of previous funding levels. Ms Garvey explained that this tough environment only served to further heighten the need of of community and voluntary organisations to prove their worth and "take charge" of the situation.
“I know people feel they just don’t have the time to do this, that their resources are already stretched to breaking point, but we are just going to have to step back and take the time to do this.”
Seeking Independent Solutions
When the subject of whether an over reliance on State funding would lead to a situation in which organisations were fearful of calling for necessary social and political change was raised, Ms Garvey pointed out that, "That kind of advocacy work is going to become increasingly difficult in the next few years. Philanthropic organisations, like Atlantic Philanthropies, are shutting up business in the next few years."
“It underlines the importance for the voluntary sector of not being a victim to these cuts, but of taking charge of the situation and really stepping back to reflect on the kind of society we want to build, and leading that discussion."
Ms Garvey also spoke of how "The lack of a shared vision about the kind of society we want [currenlyt] inhibits the voluntary sector".
Also speaking at yesterdays conference, Fergus O'Ferrall, lecturer in health policy at Trinity College, spoke of the "clear choice" facing the Irish community and voluntary sector.
“It may continue to be shaped as a product of the current dysfunctional State in Ireland or it may become a creative catalyst for radical change. We must break our resource dependency upon a failed State model of development and become the seedbeds of a new kind of active citizenry.”