Hello! We've recently rebranded to nfpResearch. Please visit our new website at nfpresearch.com

Public uncertain of implications for charities if Scotland votes ‘Yes’

Scottish parties split over impact of independence on charities

  • 19 of the 20 SNP MSPs surveyed believe that Scottish independence would have a positive impact for charities, a new report finds 
  • Seven out of 15 Labour MSPs and four out of six Conservative MSPs surveyed raised concerns that charity funding in Scotland would be adversely affected by independence
  • 30% of Scottish public said they ‘didn’t know’ what impact Scottish independence would have on charities, pressure groups or voluntary organisations
  • 26% agreed that ‘the future could become less certain for charities’
  • 23% agreed that ‘charities could be better placed to meet the needs of Scottish people’

The two largest political parties in Scotland are split over the impact independence will have on charities, new research suggests. ‘Walking the Tightrope- five recommendations for charities to engage with Scotland’s changing future’, a new report published by research consultancy nfpSynergy, shows that while Labour and Scottish National Party MSPs disagree on the repercussions of independence, a third of the public are uncertain about what it would mean for charities.

The report, based on surveys of 50 MSPs and 1000 adults in Scotland, reveals 19 out of 20 SNP MSPs believe independence would be positive for the third sector, with many anticipating stronger, wealthier charities with a better focus on Scottish people and their circumstances.

However, it also shows that half (seven out of 15) of Labour MSPs and four out of six Conservative MSPs worry that independence would have negative consequences, including diverting resources from charities in Scotland at a time when greater demand is placed on their services.

The results also reveal some concern about the effect of independence among the Scottish public. 23% felt that there would be fewer government resources available for charities, while only 14% thought there would be more governmental support. A third (30%) said they didn’t know what impact independence would have. More positively, 23% of respondents agreed that ‘charities would be better placed to meet the needs of the Scottish public’ in the event of independence.

The paper, free to download from nfpSynergy’s website, goes on to make key recommendations for how charities can engage with the independence debate without antagonising MSPs or the public. Using feedback from MSPs as evidence, the report makes 5 recommendations:

1.    Ask the tough questions of politicians: question MSPs from all parties about how charities will be affected by Scottish independence and other post-referendum scenarios.

2.    Stay impartial: do not take a party stance. Engage in the debate, but remain party-neutral.

3.    Work together: speak to other charities or stakeholders and discuss possible implications for them and the sector as a whole.

4.    Prepare a contingency plan for independence and greater devolution.  

5.    Make policy recommendations. Suggest how areas of concern could be addressed.  

The full report is available free at: https://nfpsynergy.net/free-report/walking-the-tightrope 

nfpSynergy’s Head of Professional Audiences, Tim Harrison, said:

“Whichever way the Scottish people vote on September 18th, Scotland will be a different country post-referendum. With the main political parties (excluding SNP) advocating new powers for Holyrood should Scotland vote no, charities need to be prepared to work with a Scottish government that will have more power and autonomy. The recommendations from this report – making sure MSPs are considering your charity and your beneficiaries when planning for the future and preparing your own contingency for a future Scotland – will guide charities in Scotland through this uncertain phase.”   


Please see the attached report for full details. When it is released on Tuesday, it will be available for download at: https://nfpsynergy.net/free-report/walking-the-tightrope

For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Tim Harrison, please contact him directly on 020 7426 8888,  or timothy.harrison@nfpsynergy.net

- ends –


To interview nfpSynergy’s Tim Harrison about these findings, please contact him directly on 020 7426 8888,  or timothy.harrison@nfpsynergy.net. If you cannot contact Tim, please contact Rob White (E: rob.white@nfpsynergy.net) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy is a research consultancy that aims to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive.

We have over a decade of experience working exclusively with charities, helping them develop evidence-based strategies and get the best for their beneficiaries. The organisations we work with represent all sizes and areas of work and include one in three of the top 100 fundraising charities in the UK.

We run cost effective, syndicated tracking surveys of stakeholder attitudes towards charities and non-profit organisations. The audiences we reach include the general public, young people, journalists, politicians and health professionals. We also work with charities on bespoke projects, providing quantitative, qualitative and desk research services.

In addition, we work to benefit the wider sector by creating and distributing regular free reports, presentations and research on the issues that charities face. 



Subscribe to our newsletter.

Walking the Tightrope

To download this file please enter your details in the form below and click the Download button.