This guidance is used when assessing applications for SCVO membership. It is based on the current eligibility statement. The reference to the Scottish Governance Code provides guidance to organisations on our governance expectations.
Acceptance of members to SCVO is based on our eligibility statement and the additional guidance set out below. Organisations not eligible for membership can join as supporters.
What does it mean to be independent?
We appreciate that many organisations will be funded by local or national government. For the purposes of joining SCVO, we mean independent from national and local government in your governance structures (i.e. the majority of your committee / Board is independent, and the governing document prohibits majority control).
If the maximum number of trustees in your organisation is 12 and your governance document has a clause relating to the composition of your Board, which states that the Board shall consist of:
- 7 trustees who are elected members of a particular church/local authority council etc. and
- 5 trustees who are not elected members of a particular church/local authority council etc.
Then the majority of your Committee/Board would not be assessed as independent. This may apply to the following types of organisations: ALEOs (Arms Length External Organisations), QUANGOs (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisations), Universities, Leisure Trusts & Community Councils.
What does it mean to be self-governing?
Your governing document tells people about your organisational purpose, how you intend to achieve it and how you are governed. To govern your organisation effectively SCVO considers it good practice to have at least 3 trustees. This will help with decision making and avoid conflicts of interest. The number of trustees your organisation requires should be detailed in your governing document.
How do we decide if an organisation is for profit rather than public benefit?
A key feature of voluntary organisations is that they are ultimately directed by individuals who do not make their living from their involvement in running the organisation. This usually excludes most private sector businesses.
In keeping with good governance principles, the distinction is made by assessing if the board of the organisation is led by volunteers, restricts payment of trustees, if your governing document prohibits the distribution of profit / property to members / shareholders and whether the organisation has a clear social purpose.
Credit Unions can usually join SCVO as a member as although profits are distributed by member shares or dividends, profits are also reinvested into the organisation to pursue a wider public benefit role. This is assessed as having greater weight.
What if my organisation is based outside Scotland?
If your organisation is located elsewhere in the UK, please consider joining our counterparts in England, Northern Ireland or Wales. If you would still like to join SCVO you will be eligible for our supporter category
What is SCVO’s position on Community Interest Companies (CICs)?
CICs face fewer restrictions on trading activities than a charity, meaning they can adopt a more commercial approach in achieving their goals. A CIC Limited by Shares can choose to exclude the payments of dividends to any shareholder not specifically named in the Asset Lock and shareholders can either be individuals, private businesses or other Asset Locked organisations. In addition to this, CICs allow Directors to be paid for their services to the Company as Directors and for any other service, which they undertake for the Company. As a result, CICs don’t meet SCVO’s membership eligibility regarding trustee governance and the distribution of profit.
What is SCVO’s position on religious organisations?
Religious activity in isolation is regarded by SCVO as an exclusive and private objective. However, where faith-based organisations can demonstrate that they provide services of benefit to the community, beyond the promotion of religion, they may be eligible for membership.
A religious organisation provides benefit to the community beyond the promotion of religion e.g. the organisation runs youth groups, lunch clubs, educational programmes or other activities which benefit the wider community.
What is SCVO’s position on political organisations?
SCVO views party political activity as a private, rather than a public, objective, and as such political parties are considered distinct to the voluntary sector. However, civil participation groups and pressure groups campaigning on a specific social need or on behalf of excluded groups may be eligible for membership.
What if my organisation is set up for a short period of time only?
Organisations that have been set up for a fixed period of three years or less, for example, to deliver a short term project, are not currently eligible for membership.
If I am an individual, can I apply to be a member?
Individuals can apply to join SCVO as a supporter.