Last week the SCVO Board met and one of the items on the agenda was to look at the Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sector and explore how SCVO trustees can evidence good governance, individually and collectively.

SCVO is here to support, promote and develop a confident and sustainable voluntary sector, and we think it’s important to practice what we preach about good governance. Over the course of this year the SCVO board will use SCVO’s Good Governance Checkup to examine each of the five principles of the Governance Code, so we can demonstrate good governance in the Scotland’s national membership organisation for the voluntary sector.

We made a start with the first principle of the Code which is all about Organisational Purpose. The Code states that: ‘A well-run board is clear about the purpose, vision and values of the organisation and how it will achieve its aims.’

To ensure good governance, trustees, individually and collectively, need to be clear about their organisation’s vision and priorities and share a set of values to guide their work together and frame their decision making. The board has ultimate responsibility for directing the activity of SCVO and delivering its stated purpose. Some of the ways to demonstrate this are straightforward, and include the importance of our governing document, making sure it’s fit for purpose, clearly understood and regularly reviewed. This, along with consistent minutes of meetings, a comprehensive sub-committee structure and scheme of delegation, and regular oversight of assets and resources, means the board can avoid mission drift.

The Board then moved on to a more wide-ranging discussion about how it provides leadership in the organisational values it shares and embodies, and the culture it fosters. SCVO’s values are outlined in our Strategy and the trustees recognised the importance of making them more visible and explicit, both internally and externally. They highlighted how evidencing clear values in decision making was sometimes more about changing a plan, or deciding not to do something, in response to events and the wider world. This was starkly evident for all of our sector last year, when organisational priorities shifted and strategic plans had to be reviewed in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We learned that innovative trustees who provided values based leadership and ensured their organisation stayed true to their organisational purpose, were the ones who governed effectively through change and uncertainty.

We’ll be charting our progress throughout the year in regular blogs, being open about the highs and lows as we go along. If you’d like to take your own Board on a journey to good governance you can use SCVO’s Good Governance Checkup. And why not also join our new SCVO Trustee Network to get information and news on relevant topics, and hear from experts and share your own learning and experience at our Good Governance webinars.