There is plenty in the world today for charities to worry about, not least the tougher circumstances many of their beneficiaries face in these times of austerity. Concerns also relate to practical things happening in the sector: reduced funding, payment by results contracts, the lobbying bill and the old chestnut of chief executive pay levels.
But if we set our sights a few years into the future, there's something even more fundamental heading our way: the changing age profile of our society. It is happening, and we have the stats to prove it; for example around one-third of babies born in 2012 in the United Kingdom are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday.
This is an issue not only for charities working with older people, but for every organisation in the voluntary sector. Whatever you do or whatever you fund, from recruiting volunteers, to maintaining a donor base and the impact an ageing population will have on the people they exist to help, charities need to be thinking about this issue now.
To this end, NPC has set up the Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Ageing, with support from the ILC-UK and chaired by the wonderful Lynne Berry OBE. Autumn 2013 sees the announcement of our impressive set of Commissioners, drawn from across the third sector and beyond. We have experts in ageing like Baroness Sally Greengross; those with both a private and public sector point of view like James Cochrane; others who see things from the consumer movement side like Sonia Sodha, and are involved in youth groups like Keji Okeowo.
The Commission will draw together existing research, engage and consult the sector through a series of events, and work with voluntary organisations to develop answers as to how the sector can lead the way in adapting to an ageing population. It will be supported by an expert panel, which includes representatives from Age UK, RVS, NCVO and Acevo to name but a few.
All in all we have a wide range of perspectives and experiences to do justice to a Commission that is not just about older people but about the huge impact an ageing society will have on the voluntary sector in its entirety.
And I want to make one thing clear from the start. This Commission has not just been set up to say nice things about the voluntary sector, and to defend it in the face of criticism and challenging times. We know it can be hard for a charity to see beyond the end of the week or month, let alone look forward a decade or two. But we must and will challenge the sector because it needs to wake up and get ready for major changes the whole of our society is facing.
There are exciting opportunities as well as tricky challenges that need our attention, and I'm very pleased that once again NPC will be working to help the sector achieve its potential.