CAF logo

CAF Campaigns

Working to strengthen civil society and transform more lives and communities around the world.

Charities Aid Foundation


29 September 2017

After spending some time on the south coast, our next conference trip takes us to the North, where the Conservatives will be hosting their conference in Manchester. However, the mood is unlikely to be one of celebration.

At the start of the year, the Conservatives looked unassailable. Dominant in the pools and facing a fragmented Opposition, it seemed that nothing could hold back the blue tide. Indeed, after invoking Article 50 to trigger the Brexit process and calling an early election to try and bolster her majority, the only debate seemed to be whether Theresa May could generate the kind of majority last commanded in British politics by Tony Blair.

However, it quickly began to go wrong. May’s strategy did not meet the demands of a modern election campaign, and bold policy proposals – possibly made with the cavalier believe that victory was inevitable –generated challenging conversations for Conservative candidates on the doorstep. As the votes were counted it became clear that the polls, and everyone else, had gotten it very wrong, and the aftermath of the election saw May, unable to lead a Conservative majority government, forced to come to an arrangement with Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party.

With all this in mind, the mood at Conservative Party is likely to be less jubilant than in the past couple of years. However, the reality is that the party is still in government, and unlike all other parties has the inbuilt advantage of wielding power and being able to change things. Indeed, it is this possibility of being able to get things done that offers the party the route back to dominance in the polls, with all the disclaimers that go along with their status.

As with our visit to Labour Party conference, we’ll be focusing minds on two different policy areas. We’ll be using our conference stand (25) to talk about how the UK can use its international influence to shape values across the world, not least to grow the kind of civil society that plays such an important role in our civic life. In fact, CAF has published a report calling on the Foreign Office and Department for International Development to build on their existing work and help countries across the world put in place the infrastructure needed to allow civil society to thrive to empower local donors. Find out more about out work in this area here.

Our event on this topic sees us again partnering with Barrow Cadbury Trust, and we’ll be joined by leading figures in this field including Andrew Mitchell MP, the former Secretary of State for International Development, and Fiona Bruce MP, who chairs the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Committee. We’ll also hear from Theo Clarke, who is Chief Executive of the Coalition for Global Prosperity, and previously served as Director of Conservative Friends of International Development.

Our other focus is particularly apt for Manchester, as we’ll be talking about the contribution that philanthropy can make to helping grow cities and towns, looking on how the lessons from the UK’s proud history of philanthropy can help to inform a renewed, modern sense of giving that seeks to intertwine charity with civic identity. Learn about CAF’s vision for civic philanthropy here.

Working in partnership with Barrow Cadbury Trust, New Philanthropy Capital and DevoConnect, we’ll be hosting an event that brings speakers together to discuss the potential that this could have, and how best to harness and unleash it. Speakers will include Damian Collins MP, who chairs the Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee (the department that oversees charities in government), as well as Social Enteprise UK’s chair Lord Victor Adebowale, and Danny Kruger, chairman of West London Zone and Only Connect.

Whilst we’re in Manchester we’d love to talk you through our work, and why we think these two issues could have such a transformational effect, one on the UK, one on the world. Visit our conference stand to find out more about what we’re up to, or come along to one of our events and grill our expert speakers to learn more about what they’re thinking. You can find us at:

Rethinking International Development – can fostering civil society abroad help secure Britain’s international influence?

1745-1900, Monday 2nd October

Lancaster Room, Midland Hotel


Can Westminster Fix Our Cities? Devolution, Philanthropy and Civic Renewal

1800-1930, Tuesday 3rd October

Friends’ Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester


You can find out what we're getting up to in Brighton on twitter @cafonline.

Government 580 260


Sign up to receive our latest reports and insight by email on the day they're published - and get invites to our exclusive events.

Sign up to Campaigns and Public Affairs