TSRC Working Paper 121

At a time of public spending cuts and rising demand for many third sector services, the sector’s voice and its ability to influence policy are arguably increasingly significant.

This paper from Buckingham, Ellis Paine, Alcock, Kendall and Macmillan, draws on empirical research to explore the issues of legitimacy and leverage in relation to the national level leadership of the third sector. The findings suggest that opportunities for policy influence have contracted under the Coalition government, and in some cases the routes to influence had changed. The paper discusses the foundations upon which national sector leaders based their claims to legitimacy, including technical, political and values based legitimacy, as well as a growing reliance on ‘resonance’ within the sector and beyond.

In closing the paper considers whether the context of austerity might provide an impetus for national leaders to identify shared values amidst the sector’s diversity, in order to build a stronger united voice.