Lianne Lodge: Setting up charity can reap huge benefits

Edinburgh's JK Rowling is Britain's most generous celebrities. Picture: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
Edinburgh's JK Rowling is Britain's most generous celebrities. Picture: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
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Setting up a charity to donate large sums of money is a serious undertaking – but can bring huge benefits, writes Lianne Lodge.

Despite cartoon caricatures depicting Scots as Scrooge-like with moths in their wallets where daylight rarely penetrates, the truth is that the average Scot is extremely warm-hearted, hospitable and generous.

This is borne out by the latest set of statistics on Scotland’s Rich List, which shows that Scottish philanthropists gave almost £230 million to charity last year.

Well known Scots, including JK Rowling, Sir Ian Wood, Sir Brian Souter, Ann Gloag, Lord Laidlaw and Sir Tom Hunter gave generously to charities and causes.

Many of those who donate on a large scale do so through setting up their own charities or foundations.

I see this in my work and believe that it is a reflection of our evolving society. With corporate social responsibility becoming ever more important for businesses, and individuals more aware of the great work that charities do, increasing numbers of people are looking to share their financial achievements with society as a whole by setting up their own charitable foundations.

While this is an admirable intent and can make big differences to peoples’ lives in Scotland and further afield, taking such a step demands good governance and organisations must adhere to rigorous regulation.

Any new charity must register with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, and to do this it must be established to benefit one of the charitable purposes defined in legislation. The list of these is wide-reaching, including assisting those in poverty or ill health, or promoting religion, education, sports, arts, environmental protection, culture, or animal welfare, among other things. In addition, the proposed charity must be seen to provide a direct benefit to the public.

Reassuringly, perhaps, charities and funders are becoming far more strategic about social impact and many now look for a return figure for every £1 spent. A charity must adhere to their constitution, operate according to all employment and governance legislation and will be scrutinised on that basis.

We should be proud of the fact that Scots are demonstrating such a positive approach to helping others.

• Lianne Lodge is an associate at Gillespie Macandrew