Yesterday (19 November 2018) an important and vital report on the state of civil society in England was released. It doesn’t pull any punches and has a strong call to action to do things differently going forward if civil society is to flourish in England. Which is all good.
However, the report also took the opportunity to ignore and trash the contribution that consultants make to civil society organisations. The current populist trend to dismiss any specialist or ‘expert’ as wrong, expensive and pointless has made it into the report on two of the three occasions that consultants are mentioned.
I simply don’t recognise this view. The majority of consultants that I know and have worked with are hard working, mission-driven individuals who contribute to the success and development of civil society organisations in England, the UK and the world. To ignore this is to ignore the contribution they make at a governance level, through fundraising, through interim appointments, facilitating workshops, training, co-design sessions, writing reports, conducting evaluations (often a grant condition for a civil society organisation) and supporting strategy development or the ever unpopular change management.
Civil Society Futures is an important report and the sector does need to change radically, but, buyer beware: this report is only one view of the world and does a disservice to many in the sector.