Strengthening Scottish charity law: analysis of engagement responses

This report presents the independent analysis of responses to the follow-up survey and wider engagement on proposals to strengthen Scottish charity law. The engagement process ran from 20 December 2020 to 19 February 2021.

2. Engagement Methodology


2.1 An Engagement Plan was prepared by the Scottish Government Third Sector Unit to guide the follow-up engagement with the charity sector and other key stakeholders to finalise its proposals for reviewing Scottish Charity Law.

2.2 Planned engagement activity was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Scotland, like many other countries across the world, has been subject to lockdown restrictions (in various forms) since March 2020. Stay at home and work from home restrictions meant that all of the follow-up engagement activity has been undertaken remotely.

2.3 The overall purpose of the engagement process was to help:

  • Scottish Government refine the proposals consulted on in 2019 and formulate a position on the way forward with charity law.
  • Gain insights to assist with preparing impact assessments.

Engagement Activities

2.4 The main engagement activities undertaken are considered in turn below.

Online Survey

2.5 The Scottish Government promoted an online survey on Strengthening Charity Law on its Consultation Hub website (Citizen Space). The survey ran from 21 December 2020 to 19 February 2021.

2.6 The vast majority of survey responses were submitted through the Scottish Government's online portal. Only a few were submitted to the Scottish Government directly, for example, by email. Where this was the case, the Scottish Government logged and added each response directly to Citizen Space.

2.7 All responses received were checked and moderated by the Scottish Government prior to providing EKOS Ltd access to Citizen Space. EKOS exported consultation responses from Citizen Space into Microsoft Excel for data cleaning, review and analysis.

2.8 A total of 101 responses were received but included two responses from the same individual. The two responses were merged into a single composite response

2.9 A total of 100 responses were therefore received to the online survey, with the majority submitted by individuals (60%), Table 1. Three-quarters of organisation responses were from the charity sector.

2.10 No campaign responses were identified.

Table 1: Profile of Online Survey Respondents
Respondent Number %
Individual 60 60%
Organisation 40 40%
Charity Sector Organisations 30 75%
Other Organisations 10 25%


2.11 Where an organisation response did not specify the organisation name and it was not possible to deduce this from the email address (i.e. personal email address), these were re-categorised as an individual rather than organisation response (three).

2.12 "Other" includes e.g. regulators, solicitors, local authorities and consultants.

2.13 Organisations with a national or local remit were more likely to have responded to the online survey, Table 2. Note: this includes national organisations include UK or international charities

Table 2: Profile of Organisation Respondents
Organisation Respondent Number %
National 20 50%
Local 10 25%
Membership or Professional Bodies 7 18%
Third Sector Interfaces 3 8%


Roundtable Discussions

2.14 A series of online roundtable discussions were hosted by key partners to supplement the online survey and to reach a wider audience. The events followed the same question set as the online survey, and each focused on a different audience:

  • SCVO and ACOSVO – a roundtable discussion was undertaken with 23 charity leaders and umbrella bodies. There were 25 participants (including three from the same organisation.
  • OSCR: Charities Reference Group, 35 charities representing a cross-section of the sector.
  • TSI: responses were submitted by a number of TSIs in Scotland that undertook discussions with members (local and smaller charities):
    • Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council (EVOC).
    • Fife Voluntary Action.
    • Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS).
    • Highland TSI (HTSI).
    • Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (response reflects joint events with other neighbouring TSIs - Clackmannanshire TSI and Council for Voluntary Sector, Falkirk).
    • TSI North Ayrshire.
    • TSI Moray (tsiMoray).
    • Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire (VANL).
    • Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLAN).

2.15 In most cases, the name/number of organisations/participants that attended these discussions was not provided within submissions to the Scottish Government.

Survey Analysis

2.16 The analysis seeks to identify the most common themes and issues. It does not report on every single point raised in the survey responses. Equal weighting has been given to responses. This includes the views of, on the one hand, large charities with a national remit or membership, and, on the other, smaller charities with a more local focus (or an individual's viewpoint). All of the online survey questions were open-ended, and we have tried to theme and quantify responses where appropriate. The analysis identifies key themes by respondent group where appropriate.

Survey Limitations

2.17 Respondents to any survey are self-selecting.

2.18 The depth of responses to survey questions varied – some respondents have provided full and detailed responses, while others have provided short or even single word responses. Not every respondent answered each and every question.

2.19 The phrasing of some questions made the analysis more difficult. For example, there are instances where two sub-questions are asked within a single overall open-ended question.

2.20 Notes of events held were largely bullet points of all points raised. All views were therefore recorded – as such some responses appeared contradictory in places.



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