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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 Scottish Third Sector Tracker

The Scottish Third Sector Tracker is a growing research community made up of representatives from third sector organisations based across the whole of Scotland, who are willing to share their experiences, views and concerns as the sector faces both new and ongoing challenges.

Most recent findings

Wave 7 findings - Winter 2023

The findings from wave 7 are now available. Read our summary report of wave seven of the tracker.

Read the blog Financial pressures continue to grow.

Steven Marwick (ESS) has provided additional analysis of the question on conditions attached to funding.

Waves 1-6 summary report - Spring 2023

The waves 1-6 summary report is now available.

Find out the key findings in our latest research blog.

Wave 6 findings - Spring 2023

The findings from wave 6 are now available. Read our summary report of wave six of the tracker.

The findings from wave 6 suggest that more organisations are feeling the impact of rising costs, inflation, and other financial pressures. Core operating costs continue to rise with more organisations reporting a negative impact on their ability to deliver services. In addition, difficulty fundraising continues to be a perennial issue for around a third of organisations with over half applying for additional funding to combat rising costs. Funding delays and cuts, whilst not appearing to be prevalent, cause additional financial uncertainty for organisations.

Two-thirds of organisations would like to see more funding made available to help with rising costs, with 40% wanting specific help with energy costs. This comes after a quarter of organisations said that the practical and financial support available to help with rising costs was not very sufficient and an additional 15% said that it was not at all sufficient.

Financial reserves remain important to the survival of many third sector organisations, however, almost half of those organisations using reserves feel this use to be unsustainable. This wave also saw an increase in the number of organisations reporting that they had access to less than six months operating costs in their reserves.

Despite these financial pressures, 60% of organisations report reducing the cost of their services or making them free to support the communities they serve as the rising cost of living continues to have a detrimental impact on peoples’ lives.

While financial pressures are prevalent, staffing and volunteer issues remain high too, with volunteer shortages the response option most frequently ranked as organisations number one challenge. Many organisations report increasing the pay offered to new and existing staff and offering more flexible working conditions to attract and retain paid staff. In the face of these challenges, most organisations remain confident of their future survival, although the percentage of organisations that are very confident has dropped.

Interactive summary

Infographic summary (PDF)

Almost all organisations recorded a rise in overheads again into April/May 2023, with energy and staffing costs leading this increase. Increasingly, these rising costs are thought to be having a detrimental impact on organisations’ ability to deliver their services.

Financial challenges remain the most common issue reported across the sector. In contrast, the increase in organisations reporting decreased turnover in December 2022 appears to have been reversed and accompanied by a notable jump in those recording an increased turnover in April/ May 2023. For those seeing increased turnover, grant and trading income has often underpinned this rise.

Financial reserves remain important to the survival of many third sector organisations. However, new data suggests almost half of those using their reserves feel this is unsustainable and more organisations now report that they have access to less than 6-months’ operating costs in their reserves.

Find out more about the tracker and see results from the previous waves

Frequently Asked Questions

Once every four months.

For most, the survey will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete each time.

You complete the survey online. A link to the latest edition of the survey will be emailed to you once it is live.

A complete picture of the sector is crucial to the success of the project and so we ask, where possible, that members submit a response for as many surveys as possible. We appreciate that this will not always be possible due to a change in roles, leave or illness. In these cases, we would ask for another colleague to complete the survey in your absence.

If you leave your organisation altogether, please let us know and we can organise for someone else in the organisation to take your place in the community.

Finally, in the very unfortunate circumstance that your organisation stops operating at any point during the next 6 months, we would be very grateful if you could let us know, so that we know not to continue to contact you.