Good governance is vital to the success and sustainability of third sector organisations. But good governance doesn’t just support the day-to-day running of organisations, it also helps maintain and strengthen public confidence in all of the third sector.
That’s why Scotland’s Third Sector Governance Forum decided that Scotland needed its own Governance Code, with a clear Scottish focus. With the help of funding from Scottish Government, we’ve spent the last few months reviewing other governance codes across the UK and have developed a Scottish Code based around five core principles. We explored these at a consultation event at the Gathering in February, where representatives from across the sector and across Scotland told us what they thought what was important in good governance.
The Gathering also saw the release of an SCVO survey showing public trust in charities in Scotland has fallen by 9% in the last two years. With recent safeguarding scandals in the international aid sector, and increased media attention and concerns over charity fundraising, these findings are perhaps no surprise. Our sector needs to get better at demonstrating to the public that we put our beneficiaries first, and that the vast majority of third sector organisations are well run, open and transparent. We also need to scrutinise ourselves better and the Scottish Governance Code will help us to do that.
The five core principles in the Scottish Governance Code should enable third sector organisations of all kinds to benchmark their governance practices. The principles recognise the importance of organisational purpose, board behaviour and leadership, and control and effectiveness, and suggest ways of demonstrating and implementing good governance. Our ambition is to also collect together practical and accessible resources to underpin the Code, and create a pool of resources which we hope will be continually developed, by the sector, for the sector.
Our next step is to publish the first draft of the Code and ask for your input. If you’d like to feed in to this process let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org .