Issue 5

WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR SOCIAL INVESTMENT IN SCOTLAND?

By Professor Nick Kuenssberg, Chair of the Board, Social Investment Scotland

When asked whether I would be interested in chairing Social Investment Scotland (SIS), I had to confess that I had not heard of the organisation.

However on doing my due diligence I realised that this is an important organisation. Indeed it could be said that its existence is critical because;
•    the contribution that it has made and can continue to make to society in Scotland is significant and influential, with £45m funding 200 projects in Scotland to date,
•    the need for organisations like SIS can only grow in the current and foreseeable economic climate,  and
•    the SIS Social Impact Report of 2012 demonstrated very clearly the benefits that accrue to society from those supported by SIS and parallel organisations.

After meeting the chief executive and some of the members of his executive team before the interview I realised that this is a young but committed team with an underlying passion for their work that has built an excellent portfolio of projects and that the potential for its contribution is even greater than that achieved to date. At the same time their ambitions began to resonate with me.

The interview was challenging, interesting and showed that there was indeed still much to be done; I was absolutely delighted when invited to follow in Alf Young’s footsteps.

……the SIS Social Impact Report of 2012 demonstrated very clearly the benefits that accrue to society from those supported by SIS and parallel organisations.

In addition the board was generous in giving me the opportunity to influence the selection of trustees to fill a number of trustee vacancies. In the event we have selected five from a very strong short list, these to be confirmed at the March board meeting that will consider both a renewed long-term strategy and a revision of corporate governance. I am confident that the resulting board will combine to present a thoughtful, powerful and engaged group that will add real value to the organisation.

An outcome of the trustee selection process was the realisation that there are many talented engaged people who wish to encourage and collaborate with the sector.

SIS will be looking at ways in which we can harness that potential engagement in order to promote the interests and potential of the sector.

What does the refreshed strategy contain? It is premature to reveal the contents at this stage but we will have clarity by the beginning of the financial year including some or all of the following.

•    Above all the developed SIS strategy will be aspirational in its impact on society in Scotland in terms of both quantity and quality.
•    The experience of the first 11 years of activity will be analysed with a view to evaluation, analysis and lessons learned.
•    The potential for scaling projects will be evaluated and implemented.
•    The possibility of support for rolling out locally successful projects at a national level and the use of available talent to help underpin programmes will be explored.
•    A variety of events for sharing experience with a view to practical implementation will be examined and the scope for enhancing the offering to third sector organisations through partnerships will be further developed.
•    Finally we will look to innovate new funding instruments to broaden the source of funds and to respond to varying community needs.

We anticipate Social Investment Scotland will have made a real contribution in connecting capital with Scotland’s communities and in developing its human, social and intellectual capital.

The legacy of the next five years can, of course, only be judged in five years time, but the board is determined that the third sector landscape in Scotland will look very different by then in terms of employment, environment, sustainability and life chances.

We anticipate Social Investment Scotland will have made a real contribution in connecting capital with Scotland’s communities and in developing its human, social and intellectual capital.

Professor Nick Kuenssberg has been a senior executive and non-executive director of numerous trading companies and public service organisations, both in Scotland and internationally. He joined SIS as chair of the board earlier this year.

By Professor Nick Kuenssberg, Chair of the Board, Social Investment Scotland

Issue 5

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