There can be no underestimating the importance of trust in charities, which is already at a high level in Scotland. Public trust in the charity ‘brand’ is one of the most powerful assets our sector holds, but gaining and retaining this is not easy in 2019.
The environment that charities now operate in has changed markedly since the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act was passed in 2005. An increasingly digitalised world where change is unpredictable finds the public struggling with who and what to have confidence in.
We see this as a challenge, rather than a problem for charities. It should focus our minds on the need for good governance within charitable organisations to ensure they are well run, open and transparent. It also forces us to think about whether how we work is fit for purpose, 13 years since charity law was first introduced in Scotland.
That challenge must be helped by regulations, and while the three-month consultation launched in January by the Scottish Government represents the biggest shake up to Scots charity law since 2006, will the proposed changes go far enough to protect the charity ‘brand’ in the years to come?
My answer is no; we’re tinkering with legislation that’s more than a decade old. I was in second year of secondary education and the iPhone didn’t exist!
While SCVO welcomes the opportunity to review charity law and encourages third sector organisations to have their say in the Scottish Government’s consultation, we think there are some major missed opportunities here to better define what modern charities are. This is a time to take stock on matters beyond the consultation, to maintain and build trust in the charity ‘brand’.
SCVO will be hosting an event on 11th March from 13:00 – 16:30 in central Edinburgh to focus on the changes to Scottish Charity Law that are needed to strengthen the charity ‘brand’ in the mind of the public. We will explore how charities can remain accountable through up to date regulation which considers new developments in technology, society and constitutional change.
Are we true to our mission and values? Do we have good governance in place to ensure we are well run? Are we open, transparent and accountable? Does the charity ‘brand’ work for people and communities across Scotland?
These discussions will inform SCVO’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and will assist others in the sector to form their own responses.
We will also look to share our initial thinking on the specific consultation questions over the coming weeks and we hope you will be able to join us at the event in March.