Charities urged to get to grips with indyref as ten steps guide launched

January 31, 2014

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A new guide to help charities better prepare their organisations ahead of the referendum result in September has been launch today (31st Jan), by the Carnegie UK Trust.

The referendum guide, produced in partnership with ACOSVO, The Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations, outlines ten simple steps for charities to follow to ensure they are taking the right steps towards being ‘indyref’ ready, should changes take effect later this year.

The concise advice follows up earlier work which showed few charities had begun to consider the implications of Scottish Independence on their work and fundraising activities. This new guide is meant as a quick reference tool to help charities ensure they have the right strategy in place and have considered all possibilities, including those that are very close to home.

Ideas include, ‘Asking for support from the sector’, to allow charities to consider how they want to respond in the run-up to the referendum, and, ‘Engaging with Trustees’, so that the organisation debates any issues before any activity is undertaken. ‘Thinking through whether current structures are fit for purpose’, and, ‘Thinking about funding models and how this might change’, are also included in the guide’s line-up.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive, Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Although some of the steps within the guide might appear simple, we hope that the content will act as a stepping stone for charities to learn more, and delve deeper into what the referendum might mean for them. The Electoral Commission will also soon publish its guidance for the Scottish independence referendum. With each referendum having different rules and regulations, this will be a good starting point to learn more about conduct during this time.

“A little over a year ago, we did a survey into charities readiness about what constitutional change might mean for them. Back then, we found that 92% of Scottish charities had not started to plan for this. Although we feel this picture has change somewhat since then, this new guide provides a call to action.

“The referendum may still be eight months away, but I think we all realise how quickly this will come around. We are encouraging charities to be ready, not only so they can join-in the debate in advance, but also so that their business is fit for purpose, should changes take effect in September.”

The guide for charities comes following the Carnegie UK Trust and ACOSVO holding a series of seminars on how the independence debate, and its outcome, would impact on charities.  During these discussions information was gathered about how charities were responding, both internally and externally.

Pat Armstrong, Chief Executive, ACOSVO, said: “It has been a great opportunity to discuss and debate the possible implications of constitutional change with third sector leaders over the year, and great to see a practical tool being developed from these discussions.

“It has also highlighted to us the importance of developing a ‘safe place’ for leaders to explore these issues and also to make sure it is in an environment that encourages peer support and good practice sharing. We hope the guide encourages shared learning and experiences throughout the sector.”

The Carnegie UK Trust has also been instrumental in working with the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) to ensure that there is a clear set of principles for charities to follow regarding their role in the referendum. OSCR published this guidance in summer 2013. 

The ten steps outlined in the guide published today by Carnegie UK Trust/ACOSVO are:

Step #1: Read up on the guidance
Step #2: Ask for support from the sector and intermediary/umbrella bodies
Step #3: Engage your Trustees
Step #4: Think through whether current structures are fit for purpose
Step #5: Think about your funding model and how this might change
Step #6: Speak to your staff and volunteers
Step #7: Focus on your beneficiaries
Step #8: Brief colleagues in the rest of the UK on what you’re doing and why
Step #9: There is no ‘correct’ response but there is an opportunity
Step #10: Review post-Sept 2014 and report back to the Board

The referendum guide for charities can be downloaded here: