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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.

Mergers & collaborations

There are many reasons why voluntary sector organisations decide to work together. It could be to achieve a similar aim, jointly working on a specific campaign, or to save costs.

You need to be aware of the potential advantages and risks associated with working with another organisation before you take any decisions. Each organisation should undertake their own risk assessment and seek professional advice before entering into an agreement with another. Outlined below are some of the issues to take into consideration:

Potential advantages:

  • reduced costs for both organisations
  • improved services, avoids duplication
  • strength in numbers
  • access to new and/or increased service users
  • shared risk
  • shared knowledge

Potential risks:

  • damage to your reputation
  • confusing to users and other stakeholders
  • wasted time and resources
  • liability, if things go wrong
  • decision making becomes more complicated
  • resistance to change

Different methods of collaboration

Here are some of the main ways in which voluntary sector organisations can work together:

  • separate organisations working together on activities or functions
  • organisations with expertise or resources offering help to other organisations
  • new organisation created to carry out joint work on activities or functions
  • group structure, parent organisation governs subsidiary organisations
  • merger into a completely new organisation.

Thinking About Merger?

The Institute for Voluntary Action Research have produced a guide Thinking about Merger during Covid 19 for senior staff and trustees of small and medium-sized voluntary organisations, bringing together the experiences of a wide variety of voluntary organisations and advisers that have contemplated or carried out merger.

Burness Paull, partners in SCVO's Free Legal Advice Service, covered Mergers and Consortia in a recent webinar.

Last modified on 22 February 2023
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