Without a change, social sector organisations face an existential threat, report says. 

16 March, 2022

Published yesterday, the report It’s All About Power, by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation warns that the social sector faces an “existential threat” if it does not rethink its approach to power and partnership working. They could become alienated from the people they were created to support.

The foundation, which works with individuals and community groups, large charities and social enterprises, said the social sector must “embrace a new way of thinking about power if it wants to create deeper solidarity for social change”. 

The report has been produced as part of a two-year inquiry into civil society, social change and people’s experience of poverty and inequality.  

Too often social sector organisations lack the culture, finance and/or strategies to build equitable relationships with people they are seeking to support, the report has found. Often the people the sector are seeking to support, don’t find charities welcoming or useful. While there is a real desire to effect positive change partnerships between organisations and communities of benefit, can be tokenistic and sometimes exploitative. 

Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, https://smk.org.uk said: “Without a change, we believe that social sector organisations face an existential threat – alienated from the people they were created to support, they risk losing legitimacy and even perpetuating the very inequalities they work to tackle. 

“So, we are issuing a challenge but also an invitation. It’s time to move on from outmoded ideas of charity and philanthropy and reshape how we work for social change. 

“By starting a new conversation about power at the very heart of social sector organisations, we believe that wider civil society can become far more than the sum of its parts – and unleash our collective power to create change.” 

“It reduces our collective potential to create change because it misses the opportunity to combine people’s first-hand knowledge with the resource, capabilities and reach of social sector organisations,” says the report. 


At Voscur we believe passionately in community collaboaration . While co-production is typically time-consuming, especially as each situation requires its own unique approach. But the time invested is rewarded through increased trust, stronger relationships, better outcomes and sustainability. 

We support the sector in Bristol and the wider south west to consider different ways to involve communities in planning, delivering and evaluating services and activities.  

Our next course on co-production is on Thursday 28 April, 2022 - 13:00 to 16:30. What is this course about? The course is about involving local stakeholders in your work and ensuring that your planning and delivery are inclusively designed. You can register here.


The Sheila McKechnie Foundation is also inviting organisations to work with them to explore the ideas in their report and help them to understand what it means to put the recommendations into practice for their charity or community organisaiton.  Organisations interested in taking part are invited to email info@smk.org.uk