Today marks the start of Trustees Week with a conference in Edinburgh where we’ll be celebrating all the great work that an estimated 180,000 trustees do across Scotland. The conference, ‘A Recipe for Success’, will be a chance for trustees and governance geeks to get together and consider how to achieve good governance in their organisations.

When talking about good governance, a great place to start is with the Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sectorwhich celebrates its first birthday this week. Produced by Scotland’s Third Sector Governance Forum, the Code is a collective statement by the sector, for the sector, on what good governance looks like. It’s designed to work for all third sector organisations, whatever their shape and size.

The Code isn’t a legal or regulatory requirement. It’s designed to be aspirational, a tool for boards to reflect on and improve governance. It has five fundamental principles to help guide trustees to do the right thing, in the right way. They come under the main headings of: Organisational Purpose, Leadership, Behaviour, Control and Effectiveness Take a look and see how you can apply the Code to your Board.

As recognition of the Code has grown during the year, there’s been a lot of other developments for charity and voluntary sector governance in Scotland:

  • OSCR has a new online application form for prospective charities and is trialling a new Trustee Information and Guidance Pack
  • A new Code of Fundraising Practice came into force on 1 October which is designed to make it easier for fundraisers, charities and third-party organisations to understand the standards expected of them when fundraising
  • A new Disclosure (Scotland) Bill has set out proposals to modernise and improve the proportionality of the state disclosure system in Scotland
  • A review to assess how the future development of the Charities SORP is governed has been published
  • And during the summer, Scottish Government consulted on OSCR’s proposals to update charity legislation for the first time since 2005. Many in the sector, including SCVO, were hoping for wider reform and now Scottish Government have decided that more policy development work and stakeholder engagement is required before any legislative changes are made.

With all that going on, we’ve also been busy at SCVO too…

We’ve created a Good Governance Checkup to be used with the Code to help trustees regularly review their governance. Designed to help trustees identify areas for improvement and monitor and record their board’s journey to good governance, you can download your own copy in a number of formats.

We’re working on a digital version of the Checkup which will be launched soon, and have also produced ‘Good Governance & Safeguarding: A Guide for Trustees’ which looks at how the Scottish Governance Code and SCVO’s Good Governance Checkup can be used to help develop a strong safeguarding culture in your organisation. The Guide focusses on the oversight and governance role of trustees, and how you can demonstrate and implement each of the five core principles of the Code, with specific regard to safeguarding.

We’ve also been looking at our own governance too and will be working through the Checkup with the SCVO Board over the next year. We’ll be blogging on our progress, so watch this space for more details…

Happy Trustees Week!