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The late twentieth century saw charities grow from timid service deliverers into major providers with campaigning teeth. What caused this? How did they gain confidence and strength? In this talk, examined through the lens of RNIB from 1970 to 2010, Ian Bruce examines the internal drivers and the external socio-political environment that allowed and encouraged this explosion. He presents themes such as the rise of beneficiary power against patronising providers; the change from welfare to rights; the shift from the medical to the social model of disability; and the adoption of social welfare and business professionalisms such as Strategic Planning and Charity Marketing. Critical to his analysis is the changing behaviour of the regulator, the Charity Commission. He will argue that today’s charities have much to learn from the successes and mistakes of this dynamic period.

This talk draws on Ian Bruce’s latest book Vision Changing Charity – RNIB in Socio-Political Context 1970 – 2010 published by The Lutterworth Press (Cambridge 2023) which has been widely praised by, among others, Fred Reid, Hon Professor of History, University of Warwick; Sir Stuart Etherington, ex-CEO of NCVO; and Professor Paul Palmer, Director of the Centre for Charity Effectiveness of Bayes Business School, City, University of London. Copies will be available at a discounted price.


Professor Ian Bruce, CBE, moved from Unilever to work in charities in 1970 and later founded the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at City, University of London’s Bayes Business School of which he was Director and is now President. His research on visual impairment, charity leadership and marketing is widely cited in the academic literature. While he was CEO (1983-2003), RNIB had over 3,000 staff on 56 sites, with schools, colleges, libraries, hotels, residential homes, factories, printing presses and a campaigning HQ. He was previously CEO of Volunteering England; and Assistant CEO of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Age Concern England. During his career he has founded or co-founded 12 local, national and international nonprofit organisations and has taken lead roles in several international organisations.


All welcome- this session is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.