At our recent AGM we shared a lot of the great stuff we’ve been doing over the past 12 months and I’m excited to say there’s more to come!

I’m particularly looking forward to the membership review. Our new team have been busy laying the foundations and now they’re getting ready to start the building work,which will involve lots of engagement with existing, past and prospective members. We want to have an improved offer to our members because we know they have other options to choose from and we want to foster a feeling of belonging – that our members are part of something worthwhile for their organisations and for the sector as a whole.

I’m also pleased we have been developing our relationships with other membership organisations, particularly other intermediaries and third sector interfaces. That landscape can feel crowded and must be a bit confusing for people in the sector, especially local and community organisations. But we all have unique roles to play. We are determined to have complementary roles that add value and to amplify each other’s voices where appropriate rather than standing on each other’s toes.

One of the things we will be making more progress on is better linkages across our different areas of work. While everything we do is valued by someone; what was striking to me was that very few people valued everything. Maybe that’s an unrealistic aspiration, but I do think we could make much more of the totality of what we offer, and the different bits of SCVO could learn more from each other. We’ve got great systems and we need to maximise them.

We also want to build more strategic partnerships, with the public and private sectors as well as with others in the voluntary sector. We are in discussions with local government about more meaningful partnerships at a national and local level, and we are being a bit bolder in our thinking on working better with the private sector.

There are some big issues facing Scotland just now, not just the political chaos that surrounds us. There’s Brexit and the potential impact on communities and the economy as well as on our own workforce and volunteering capacity. We are proposing to set up a European issues group to consider some of the immediate issues but also to look at longer term engagement with Europe. We also continue to work hard on the problems there are with European funding and influencing UK government on any successor funding that might become available.

There’s the climate emergency. Of course there are many voluntary sector organisations campaigning and doing practical things, like promoting renewable energy use and biodiversity. And there are things the whole sector can contribute in terms of our own carbon footprint. We have the biggest meeting of global leaders gathering in Glasgow next November and we need to galvanise the momentum around influencing them to commit to real change as well as showing leadership by demonstrating the difference we are making right here in Scotland. You might say that small things don’t make a difference, but I recently heard someone say “no single snowflake is ever to blame for the avalanche” and I think that sums it up beautifully.

And then there’s poverty, inclusion and social isolation. Across the sector we are trying to address those things, and always have. What is SCVO’s role in curating some of that effort, or even just making it visible to as wide an audience as possible? How do we demonstrate the sector’s contribution to Scotland’s National Performance Framework and to the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Scotland is leading the way in responding to the SDGs and I’m very proud SCVO has been recognised as playing a vital role in that.

Our three strategic aims centre on supporting, promoting and developinga confident, sustainable voluntary sector.

We do that through providing fundamental services such as payroll, recruitment, IT and governance advice. We build capacity through our ground-breaking digital work, our fund management which helps money reach the parts others don’t reach, supporting employers to create jobs and support young people into meaningful work. We promote the sector through Third Force News both in the lovely printed magazine and in the online content which will continue to develop over the coming months, as well as with the Charity Awards. Our policy and campaigns work, training and the Gatheringdo all three with very practical things like our work on social security and our portfolio of learning offers, our influencing role with Scottish Government and the Parliament as well as UK Government and local government.

We have a unique convening role; we have credibility and reach. We are relationship-builders and advocates, and we are a trusted provider of support. I look forward to making all of that even better over the coming year…and maybe introducing some new things too.