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Advocating for the charitable sector, Sir Stephen Bubb

Sir Stephen Bubb's remarkable journey from a union representative to a leading advocate for charity CEOs and their organisations is a testament to his unwavering commitment to positive change and the sector.

We explore his decades-long advocacy for the 'Third Sector,' his influential role in shaping government policies, and his latest mission to establish the world's first-ever Research Institute dedicated to charity at New College Oxford.

Championing the 'Third Sector': For decades, Sir Stephen fearlessly challenged authority and championed the cause of the charity sector. He shares anecdotes of standing up to the UK Prime Minister via a Minister when he believed that the government's actions were a smokescreen for funding cuts. With unwavering support from his board and the sector, Sir Stephen refused to back down from his criticisms, firmly believing in defending the sector's interests.

Sir Stephen's tenure as the Chief Executive of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) spanned fifteen influential years until 2016. In this role, he wielded significant influence in shaping government policies related to the third sector's involvement in delivering public services.

During his time at ACEVO, one significant challenge Sir Stephen faced was battling misconceptions about overhead costs in the charity sector. He emphasised the importance of core costs and reserves, underlining those successful charities, like any other organisations, require resources for effective governance and leadership.

Sir Stephen's mission extends beyond financial matters; he aims to change perceptions about charities. The stereotype of charities as small-scale, volunteer-driven entities is being challenged. Charities play a vital role in society, deserving serious academic attention.

Leaving ACEVO, Sir Stephen embarked on a new mission to launch a research institute for charity, what has become the Gradel Institute of Charity at New College Oxford, named after the investment leader Chris Gradel, co-founder of the successful Pacific Investment Group.

The Gradel Institute of Charity is set to be a pioneering institution on a global scale. Unlike many research centres focused primarily on philanthropy and giving, this institute places a unique emphasis on charities as organisations. It prioritises leadership, governance, and impact assessment—often overlooked but crucial elements for an organization's success.

Beyond Research: They aim to bridge the education gap by offering graduate and postgraduate programs, filling a void in academia. Sir Stephen believes that despite people's enthusiasm for charity work, there has been a lack of structured education to support their aspirations.

Sir Stephen's commitment to philanthropy and compassionate leadership shines through his diverse portfolio of roles. He chaired the Social Investment Business, the UK's largest social investor, and served as a trustee at the Helen and Douglas House Hospice, recognized as the world's first children's hospice.

National Influence: Sir Stephen's influence extends beyond the charitable sector. He played a pivotal role in shaping national policies, including reporting on choice and competition in the NHS for the Prime Minister in 2011. In 2014, his major report titled 'Winterbourne View – Time for Action' advocated for radical reforms in the care of individuals with learning disabilities. His national roles at TGWU, NUT, AMA, and his founding role at the National Lottery Charities Board further underscore his dedication to public service and advocacy.


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