Creating abilty, not reliance
Our aim in providing support is to make a sustainable difference to your organisation. We hope that, while working with us, your organisation and its people will develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to take on similar tasks in the future.
The word we use to describe how we work is “enabling” – we won’t usually do things for you, or indeed to you. Instead we will take time to explain what you need to do. Sometime that takes longer, but we believe that it is time well spent.
Charging for services
We receive funding from both the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council that helps cover our costs – this is our core funding. Unfortunately it does not cover the cost of everything that we might aspire to do. With the exception of a small charge that we make for delegates attending training and events, we currently do not charge for services.
Whilst we will not charge you for our support, we may however ask you to contribute to our work by committing your organisation and people to participation in our training programme and events – or perhaps by choosing to contribute by volunteering (the DNA of the third sector) or using your skills and knowledge to help another group or organisation. We will discuss this when we meet with you.
Equality of access
We aim to ensure that every group and individual that we work with gets the same high quality of service from us. When we work with an individual, group or organisation, we aim to ensure that they receive the support that they need, to the standard and quality that they need it, at the time they need it – no matter where they are located in Dumfries and Galloway. We do, however, have to prioritise our work based upon need and, of course, our capacity at any point in time.
Before we work with you, we will usually ask you to complete an evaluation questionnaire or “health check” on your capacity. Completing the health check helps us see what other things you might need help with. We will also ask you to complete an evaluation questionnaire – to tell us how we have done and what we can do to improve.
The basics – getting you started and keeping it legal.
Whether you are a new group that is just starting up, or an existing group reviewing how you work or your legal status, we are here to help you get it right.
Choosing a legal structure
There are lots of structures available to voluntary organisations, all with different features, benefits and limitations. Getting your legal structure right is important because it will affect:
- What you can do
- The taxes you will have to pay
- The regulations that you will have to comply with
- The liabilities your committee or board may have
We can help you understand what structures are available, guide you towards choosing the right structure and support you in adapting that structure to suit your needs and aspirations.
Writing your constitution
An organisation’s constitution is its rule book. It sets out what the organisation aims to do, what activities it can undertake and how things will happen in the organisation. In a company the constitution is called a Memorandum and Articles of Association. In a Trust it is called a Trust Deed.
It is important that your constitution is reviewed regularly to check it is still appropriate for your organisation and meets any changes there might have been in legislation. We recommend that you review your constitution every two years – if you have not reviewed your constitution in the last three years, it may be worth contacting us to help you with a review.
If you receive funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council, you will also need to ensure that your constitution includes clauses relating to how you will manage your finances and banking arrangements. Without these clauses, the Council may refuse your application for funding – or defer a decision until you have changed your constitution to meet their requirements.
Setting up a bank account and managing your money
A bank account is an essential part of running an effective and accountable organisation. Getting the right account and setting it up in the right way is important. Most funders will want to see that your account is open and is being run appropriately before they will give you funding.
As a committee or board, you will be responsible for making sure that your money is managed well. Some organisations use accountants but that can be expensive and, for most small groups and organisations, isn’t usually necessary. By using what is called “Independent Examination of Accounts”, we can help you avoid the expense of accountants’ fees. Please contact us if you would like more information about independent examination.
You will need to have systems and controls setting out how you will manage your money, who is authorised to make decisions about spending and who signs cheques or operates your on-line banking. We can guide you to design financial systems that suit how you want to work, while keeping your finances in order. Making sure that you have robust and transparent financial processes – and that everyone understands and abides by them – will help you avoid difficulties in the future.
Supporting New Organisations
We can help establish new third sector organisations by advising you on the most appropriate structure to achieve your objectives; guide you through the process of incorporation; help you achieve governance and control of your organisation that is open, honest and transparent; and help you find sources of funding. We can provide specialist advice on obtaining charitable status by ensuring that your constitution is appropriate, your charitable objectives are clear and your application to the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is successful.
An Enterprising Third Sector
We can provide advice on starting up a social enterprise and help existing third sector organisations to be more enterprising. We can demonstrate how the profit in a successful business can be reinvested for social or environmental purposes rather than for individual gain – and provide you with the tools to become a successful social enterprise.
We gather and distribute news about the sector in Dumfries and Galloway and more widely from across Scotland and the United Kingdom.
We can help the third sector to improve its governance, develop and grow activities, and connect to community planning. Part of the way in which we do this is by developing a programme of events – from training workshops and seminars to conferences – where best practice and knowledge can be shared; skills developed; and problems and their solutions shared.
We provide up to date and comprehensive information on funding opportunities and can help your organisation find funding for your work or projects and, if you tell us when your funding is in place, we can help you set up simple systems that will help you be accountable to and report on your funded activities to your funder.
To access news, events, and funding opportunities, join the Third Sector Community
Accounts and Independent Examination
If you are a registered charity, you need to produce annual accounts and have them examined to meet OSCR standards. We can help you produce compliant annual accounts and independently examine them for you. We charge for this service but our charges are low and based on the annual income of your organisation. We can provide the same service for unincorporated organisations – helping you report on your activities and your financial affairs to your members.
Protection of Vulnerable Groups
We are an Intermediary Body for the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG). We can provide help and support for your organisation by administering and processing PVG Scheme memberships and updates for volunteer involving organisations.
Listed above are some of the services that we provide to support individual organisations within the sector – but we can and will do more.