Leadership and career development

Outgoing CFG Chair warns that charities must not lose their voice in chase for government income

Ian Theodoreson, Chair of Charity Finance Group, will make his remarks at the CFG Annual Conference today at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster.

The conference is the largest gathering of finance directors in the charity sector and will be attended by over 600 delegates.

The conference has been sponsored by Grant Thornton and the drinks reception has been sponsored by Rathbones.


Reflecting on his 30 plus years in the charity sector, the outgoing Chair of Charity Finance Group, Ian Theodoreson will warn charities that they must not lose their voice and independence in the chase for income from government contracts.

In a speech which covers his career in the sector and the trends which he has noted in charity finance, Theodoreson will highlight the importance of values in the sector.

He will begin by noting the progress that has been made in the sector, a theme also reflected in a film to be broadcast to CFG members at the conference. He will say that the charity sector has moved from a ‘Wild West’ where charity finance was relatively unprofessional and standards of reporting varied, to a position where skills in the charity sector are much high and accountability is stronger.

CFG is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary and Theodoreson will say that CFG has to adapt as well to reflect changes in the sector. Now more charities have the finance skills they need and are more accountable with the public, he will call on them to put these capacities and principles into action:

If the journey so far has been about raising our own skills and being more accountable to the public, going forward it is about stewarding our resources and getting the most out of them. Now that we have the skills to do our work effectively, we have to put our principles into action.”

However, he will also warn charities that by becoming larger and more professional, they have become part of the establishment. He will highlight his particular concern that the race for government contracts is endangering the sector’s voice and distinct message.

“In pursuing growth and reach through contracts, we have actually dulled our voice and have lost our distinct message. We no longer stand out as a sector that challenges the status quo and the public is consequently less clear about what we stand for, which should be a cause of concern for everyone who cares about the charity sector.”

A full copy of Ian’s speech is on CFG’s blog:

NOTES to Editors:

  • Ian was one of the founders of Charity Finance Group in 1987, and has a long career in the charity sector including being director of Finance at Save the Children, Barnardo’s and the Church of England.
  • Ian has been Chair of Charity Finance Group for 6 years and is stepping down as Chair before the end of his term in September 2017. He will be replaced as Chair by current Vice-Chair and International Finance Director at Amnesty International, Nicki Deeson.
  • CFG is the charity that champions best practice in finance management in the voluntary sector. With nearly 1,400 members, managing over £21bn, it is uniquely placed to challenge regulation which threatens the effective use of charity funds. For more information, please see
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