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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.

The Lifecycle of a charity

In Scotland around 800 new charities are set up every year, and 600 wind up and dissolve. After many years working on the SCVO Information Service, dealing with all the trials and tribulations of charities, from small community groups, right up to big household names, I think there’s a story to be told there. There are also some useful, universal, lessons to be learned for anyone thinking of setting up a charity, or in the throes of development, perhaps taking on staff or renting a building, or even for the few thinking about how best to wind up.

So that’s why we’ve organised a series of free lunchtime webinars that will look at the ‘Lifecycle of a Charity’, focusing on how and why charities begin, how they develop, and then why some come to an end. We’ll also look at how a trustee’s journey evolves in a special webinar to celebrate Trustees’ Week. Run jointly with the Charity Regulator we’ll have lots of expert speakers from across the sector, including our partners in the SCVO free legal advice service Gillespie Macandrew, The Cranfield Trust, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council and Foundation Scotland. They will take you through the Lifecycle of a Charity from start to finish, using real life case studies and experience built up over many years. 

We’ll be starting the series on 7 September with a webinar looking at what it takes to set up a charity and the key things you need to know before applying to OSCR. We’ll highlight what you need to think about right from the start and the work and timescales involved in setting up. We’ll focus on charitable aims and beneficiaries and look at how to build a team. There will be time to consider whether you should have members, what legal structure is the most appropriate, and the reporting requirements you need to meet. There will be lots of time for questions, a look at the resources available to get you started, and a chance to learn how to future proof your charity. 

Then on 5 October we’ll look at what you need to know to run your charity successfully and sustainably. We’ll consider key events as you develop and grow, such as what to think about when moving into premises, taking on staff and entering into contracts. There will be time to consider the best ways to fundraise, and how to ensure good governance, and that you’re operating legally and effectively. There will be resources available from SCVO’s Information Service and HR and Employment Support Service to help you run your charity so that it goes from strength to strength. 

9 November is when we’ll celebrate Trustees’ Week with a focus on what excellence looks like for a trustee, and the key skills you need to have to be informed and effective. We’ll look at how to develop and build those skills and what you need to know both legally and practically. We’ll consider what good governance looks like, how to separate board and executive functions, and how you can build a legacy as a trustee and know when and how is the best time to leave. 

Our final webinar in this series is on 7 December and will look at how to recognise when it’s the right time to wind up and dissolve a charity. Whilst this can be obvious if you’re faced with financial difficulties, some charities do reach a natural end when they have addressed the need they were set up for and achieved their purpose. Other charities are affected by external change and evolution and recognise that their assets could be used to better effect elsewhere. We’ll have our experts look at some of the positive reasons to stop operating as a charity using insights gained from the Revitalising Trusts Project. The session will help trustees know when the right time is to wind up and how to do this correctly and ethically. 

All of these Lifecycle of a Charity webinars are aimed at trustees, senior staff and those who support charities. You can come along to all four, or just pick the one that best suits your needs. Here’s where to book. 

Last modified on 25 July 2022