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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

SCVO, good governance and leadership

As part of our ongoing commitment to good governance, the SCVO board met last week to continue to explore how, in line with the Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sector, trustees can demonstrate the five principles of the Code, both individually and collectively.

Last month the board looked at Organisational Purpose This time they moved on to a closer look at the principle of Leadership where the Scottish Governance Code states that ‘A well run board is clear about its role and responsibilities, and provides strategic direction in line with the organisation’s purpose, vision and values’.

To ensure good governance and provide effective leadership, trustees, both individually and collectively, need to make sure their organisation has a clear strategy to achieve its purpose. To do this they need to identify and embed the vision and values of the organisation and make sure these underpin all decisions and activities. SCVO trustees discussed how they could better evidence this by improving how our values, as outlined in our Strategy, are clearly articulated to our stakeholders on our website.

The board then moved on to discuss how to really understand their own individual and collective roles and responsibilities. The dual role of a SCVO trustee to be ultimately responsible for making sure the organisation is properly run, but also to represent the SCVO membership and the wider sector was explored. The role as an ambassador for the sector is important, not only to support the reputation of SCVO, but also to influence and network, and tell the stories that demonstrate the value of the sector’s work.

Of course good leadership is about more than knowing your role and responsibilities as a trustee, it’s also about setting the tone through behaviour, culture and overall performance. When looking at how to evidence how they do this, the SCVO trustees discussed a number of practical ways. The need for regular internal assessment and evaluation was highlighted, both for individual trustees at a one to one with the chair, and also for the board collectively. The various stages in the life cycle of a trustee role were also suggested as ways to evidence good governance. From the vital importance of an induction at the start where expectations are clearly communicated, through regular updates and refresher training, right to the chance to learn from trustees at the end of their tenure through exit interviews.

The SCVO board now have an action plan to be used at their next away day to improve how they lead and to further evidence good governance. The next board meeting will look at board behaviour, and trustees will bring two or three suggested areas of improvement to the meeting to discuss.

If this has given you food for thought and 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 the 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.

Last modified on 1 April 2021