There has been much said and written over the last few years about the relationship between the Not-for-profit and Public Sectors following on from the decrease government allocates to provide services and the increase in work for Not-for-profits as the try to cover the deficit in services. It has been in the thoughts published by the council-funded across Staffordshire community & voluntary organizations’ support source, Support Staffordshire (see Chief Officer’s message and the only certainty is uncertainty ).
We are informed that we have an opportunity to become more involved in delivering services as councils commission more services rather than deliver. For Not-for-profits this represents income and the knowledge that excellent services informed by grassroots need are delivered. For Councils we, forgive me if I include myself, have the added advantage that we are cheaper.
Those who have worked on Public Sector contracts will tell you that they can be difficult with targets changing and a lack of understanding from the Public Sector and a they, in turn, have concerns about the need for professionalism in the Not-for-profits.
The word ‘partnership’ is used a lot. My contention, and as part of being professional, is that we are not partners. We are contractors or sub-contractors. They have the money and can ask what they want. This means that the Not-for-profits are continually asked for ‘added value’ which equates to the Not-for-profit giving something from its own resources which it can ill afford. In other words: something for nothing. I wonder how many private companies would do that?
I suppose my summary of the above observations is that Not-for-profits are more than willing to engage in providing services which help individuals and make the world a better place but we should do it professionally by fully costed projects that give excellent value for money and fantastic results that do not threaten the long-term viability of the organization embedded in contracts that do not change as time goes on.