April 13, 2010; Third Sector Online | From our friends across the big pond, we learn that the two big nonprofit (voluntary sector) national bodies in the UK, the National Council for Voluntary Organizations (NCVO) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), just gave the thumbs up sign to the “big society” manifesto issued by David Cameron’s Conservative Party for its upcoming electoral battle with PM Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

The NCVO chief told Third Sector Online, “We are pleased to see that civil society is at the heart of the Conservative manifesto . . . demonstrate[ing] an understanding of many of the issues and concerns raised by the voluntary sector.” Apparently, the Party is promising that all of the “good cause money” generated by the National Lottery would go to voluntary organizations, that is, nonprofits. But a spokesperson for the Charities Aid Foundation reminded NCVO, ACEVO, and the Conservatives that the manifesto’s plan for a “Big Society Bank” needed to be backed by sufficient money.

This reminds us in the colonies of the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and their competing visions of the nonprofit sector. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” program squeaked in. We will watch how the “big society” plays out in the UK elections.—Rick Cohen