Do we need a charity sector commentariat?

Hooray, hurrah, huzzah! (Is huzzah a word?) I have been asked to blog. Officially. By a proper, bona fide news magazine. Third Sector no less –  doughty organ of civil society and recorder of the slings and arrows that befall our collective sector from time to time. Yet brief flush of pride aside, aren’t there some Troubling Questions About Blogs to be factored first, before I accept?

Foremost, does anybody read blogs? I mean real people who have real in-trays and real deadlines and (most important of all) real people in real need of the services their charity provides? And what’s the upside here?

Presumably the point at which my putative readership exceeds a value of n (where n = people called Wilkie closely related to me) is the point at which I bring an unholy brouhaha crashing down on the frankly brilliant charity (London Youth) I work for through some indiscretion or other (committed in haste to my computer screen), by admonishing a town hall bureaucrat, the tyranny of innovation, the idiocy of 90 per cent of funding regimes or any number of items I’m slowly warming to the idea of sounding off about.

I have some more noble concerns too. I wonder if we’re not falling into our own little trap of celebrity in the third sector – focusing too much on people and not enough on ideas and institutions. Don’t blogs beget the exact same sort of navel-gazing and narcissism we can do without?

Plus is more really more? Does a proliferation of voices give life to a healthily, dynamic, diverse and informed commentariat? Or do we simply substitute depth for wafer-thin breadth when we open up airwaves and fibre optic cables to all who wish to comment?


When Marshall McLuhan famously predicted we would all have our fifteen minutes of fame, he might have added we’d all also have 15 gigabytes of unlimited broadband which we could bombard the world with our thoughts. Dave from Nantwich on climate change anybody?

So do I really want to blog? It’s not at all clear.

2 Responses to “Do we need a charity sector commentariat?”

  1. Stephen Pidgeon

    I don’t do blogging, this is practically a first for me, but I was sad Nick, that your amusing piece had received just one comment and felt it deserved more.

    The one thing blogs should do is free the appalling inhibitions of the many who work in our sector who have strident views but manage to suppress them completely when asked for an opinion, and they do it for reasons of political expediency or concern they might ‘stand out’. I share your view that there is so much about our sector that deserves some ‘sounding off’ so I’d encourage you to have a real ‘go’.

    But will anybody join you, I doubt it. In fact the poor response to your blog says it all. Why, because fundraisers now have ‘careers’ to worry about and political correctness to pander to both of which work against getting arsey about the stupid things that our sector puts up with. And all for a lack of people to ‘sound off’.


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