Tamsyn Barton — the new chief executive of U.K. aid network Bond — has vowed to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations, which she believes have a “crucial role” to play in today’s political climate.
Barton takes over from Ben Jackson, who stepped down in October to become global director of innovation and partnerships at United Purpose. She previously spent nine years working at the Department for International Development, including as head of its EU department, and also held roles at the European Investment Bank.
The new CEO — who will take up her role later this month — said that Bond, as a network of 475 charities working in international development, has a “crucial role” to play in “strengthening” the aid sector in today’s challenging political climate.
“I think Bond’s role is going to be crucial in strengthening the voice for international development and solidarity in this difficult political environment. This is a period of huge challenge and change for the sector but it’s also one of great opportunity,” she said.
Rumors of Bond for International Development's financial difficulty are true, but the 475-member U.K. aid body says it isn't going anywhere, even if new DFID funding doesn't come through.
Barton, who also worked at Practical Action, is a trustee of the London-based School of Oriental and African Studies and was an academic before moving into the development field. She said she will use her career experience to help further Bond’s mission to “promote, support, represent and on occasion lead the work and interests of UK international development organisations,” according to the Bond website.
“I’m used to working in difficult policy environments, where building consensus and consortia was crucial to success. It’s also important that civil society is able to build effective partnerships with other development actors, and I’m keen to foster that approach throughout the network,” she said.
Barton’s appointment comes at a crucial time for the aid network whose budget, Devex reported in December, is heavily reliant on funding from DFID, an institution that is facing uncertainties about its own future after a series of attacks by British newspapers and some Conservative politicians.
On the issue of Bond’s financial troubles, Barton told Devex the organizations is in a “very solid” position financially” but that she plans to help it diversify its funders and “think through” the business model.
“We need to continue this work, and also think about how we provide value through our services to members,” she said.
Founded in 1993, Bond’s members include large global organizations such as Oxfam and Christian Aid, as well as smaller, specialized NGOs, research institutions and foundations.
Funding from DFID has, in recent years, accounted for just under one-third of Bond’s overall funding, with the rest coming from membership fees, conference event tickets and recruitment advertising. The European Commission and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation are also donors.
Tim Wainwright, chair of Bond, said that Barton would bring a wealth of experience to the role: “Tamsyn has worked at a senior level in government, NGOs and in international financial institutions, and I believe this diverse experience will be invaluable in continuing Bond’s work of transforming the landscape for international development in the years ahead.”