Chartered Management Institute: In My Opinion

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and a CMI Companion, proposes some solutions to the Big Society conundrum.

It's funny how you can wait years for an idea to come of age and at the very moment the conditions look to be set fair, along comes some double whammy to blow things off-course.

Such is the challenge for voluntary sector leaders faced by the prospect of public sector expenditure cuts ricocheting through their income projections, while simultaneously being enticed to stand centre-stage in a world of smaller government and bigger civil society.

And it's not just the funding cuts to come. There's also the prospect of the triangulation of government, business and civil society, which has been drawn in indelible ink in post-war Britain, beginning to blur, fade and stretch. I am as likely to bump into one of our investment managers at the launch of the latest social investment scheme as at a City breakfast. And they are quite likely to be hot-footing it off to meet one of the new breeds of social entrepreneur.

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