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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.

Purpose, profit and the voluntary sector

Today the SCDI published the report and recommendations from the The Business Purpose Commission for Scotland.

As a member of the Commission, I found the discussion fascinating in exploring the role of the public, private and voluntary sectors in delivering economic, social and environmental outcomes.

I've heard people debate before whether the voluntary and public sectors have a 'monopoly on doing good' - but the reality is that many businesses make a significant positive contribution to lives and communities, sometimes on a worldwide scale.

On the flip side, we're also making the case that the voluntary sector plays a sigificant role as an economic actor.

Increasingly there is a blurring of boundaries on organisations that 'do good', making actions perhaps more important than the organisational form. The report talks about purposeful businesses as those that "find profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet" and do not to profit from creating problems for either.

A key differentiator for the voluntary sector is that there's less risk of profit conflicting with purpose, as our mission should be our primary focus, without the same pressure to maximise financial returns for investors.

Recent research carried out by SCVO demonstrated that there is some mutual mistrust between the voluntary and private sectors that needs to be addressed. There's a lot of scope for businesses and the voluntary sector to work together to achieve even greater impact - and not just from a purely 'transactional' exchange of time or money. Hopefully the actions arising from this report will go some way towards helping progress this.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Read our full submission to The Business Purpose Commission for Scotland.

Last modified on 6 July 2022