Thinking about the future of the sector/government relationship

I am currently spending two days a week at the Office of the Third Sector where I am working with others on a futures analysis project. I am spending my days thinking about current trends and future implications, and I’m aware of what a luxury that is and the stark contrast to my usually hectic and meeting-filled days at NCVO Third Sector Foresight!

I’m identifying the drivers that will or could influence the future interaction between government and the sector. We are also looking at what this could mean for both the future barriers and enablers to a productive government-sector relationship. I intend to make use of the work I do here to feed into the next edition of the Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis,

I’ve had to narrow down the drivers as keeping the document as short as possible seems to be very important. Currently our thinking on the key drivers, many of which we’ve covered before at Third Sector Foresight, is organised around 4 themes:


  • Ageing population
  • Family structures
  • Personal mobility
  • Transition from childhood to adulthood
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Diversity


  • Decline in formal political participation
  • Rise of single issues
  • The ease of forming new groups online
  • The collaborative nature of online interactions

Economic models

  • The downturn
  • Increased need for some of the sector’s services
  • Potential growth in mutual finance and support
  • Government spending and priorities
  • Opportunities presented by social investment and social impact bonds
  • The shift to a low carbon economy

Values, expectations and behaviours

  • Giving
  • Volunteering and ‘community spirit’
  • Ethical consumerism
  • Expectations of public services

If you know of any good data on any of the above, or feel that there’s something vital missing I’d love to hear from you. I’ll post updates as the work continues.

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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Can not help but think that there needs to be some recognition about communities of place and interest and how these are affected by some of the issues and how these are changing. I think how people identify with others and how these links are formed are key to understanding some of the issues around web2.0 the rise of single issues and how people will look to volunteer.
I guess that some thought on this may come out in any analysis of the drivers in the future.

Hi Megan,

Sounds like you’ve got your nose too close to the wheel or maybe can’t see the wood for the trees (or maybe it’s just too fabulous to be inside the OTS)?

So you’re looking at the future relationships with government but you don’t seem to think that issues like power relationships, role and function of the sector, erosion of independence, state co-option, private sector business models, privatisation agendas, decoupling of ‘community’ and ‘voluntary’ and general fragmentation of the sector, command-and-control cultures, the unacceptability of dissent, the rise of bullying management styles, or the confidence trick of ‘partnership’ has got anything to do with it…….. come on Megan, get real!!

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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