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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief encounters: Alastair Davis says banks need to stop torturing charities

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The chief executive of Social Investment Scotland says even simple things like opening a new account or changing a signatory can still be difficult

What is your morning routine?
If I’m not travelling somewhere then I like to be up early to get the kettle on but head back to bed with a coffee to read The Times. l also like to be in the office early – a short commute means I can be at my desk by 8am to get some peace before the rest of my team arrive.

What makes a good day at work?
Feeling that we have achieved something. Social Investment Scotland (SIS) moves quickly and there is always lots going on, but it’s a good day if you get to hear about how our work is actually making a difference to communities across the country. The best days are where I get to see this impact first hand.

Is lunch a five minute sandwich at your desk or do you find time for yourself?
Definitely at my desk, but normally a salad rather than a sandwich. I’m trying to cut down on carbs!

What are you working on just now?
Our key focus at the moment is SIS Community Capital – a new fund we’ve developed to allow organisations to access lower cost investment by attracting investment from individuals using the new social investment tax relief. We are busy raising awareness of the new fund, as well as producing the fund’s investment memorandum.

Chief encounters: Alastair Davis says banks need to stop torturing charities

Rather than high profile CSR activities, some banks would do better to offer their charity clients good value for money, straightforward banking products with easy access to members of staff.

Alastair Davis

How do you inspire your colleagues?
We’re fortunate enough to work with some amazing organisations at SIS who are making a real difference to people’s lives. That makes my job easy – the inspiration is very obvious. What I have to do is make sure that everyone in the organisation – even in non-customer facing roles – gets the opportunity to engage with these organisations so they understand the importance of what it is they do.

Do high street banks offer enough for charities?
It’s patchy. Some do better than others. Rather than high profile CSR activities, some banks would do better to offer their charity clients good value for money, straightforward banking products with easy access to members of staff. Even simple things like changing a signatory on an account or opening a new account can still be torturous.

Why invest in a social enterprise?
Yes, investing in a social enterprise can generate a financial return, but it’s the social return you could get that you can’t put a price on. SIS is working hard to make this type of investment more mainstream.

Does charity begin at home?
Absolutely. You cannot expect customers and partners to take you seriously if your commitment to charitable activity is not authentic.

Is this a step on the rung to success or your final destination?
I’m only 35 so still have plenty of time left to work so I don’t expect to be at SIS for the rest of my career, but for the time being there is more than enough going on here to keep me busy and interested!

Social Bite or Starbucks?
I do confess to the occasional Starbucks because for the time being there aren’t as many Social Bites across the country – but we’re working with them to see how the model can be expanded. But at SIS for office lunches it’s always Social Bite. It is part of our commitment to buy social and have as much as possible of our supply chain provided by social enterprises.

Did you sit up all night watching the general election result?
Yes! I’m a politics geek and loved it all. I do confess that I had a pot of coffee to keep me going, even although I’ve recently given up caffeine.

Would your 18-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?
I think he’d be amazed! My 18-year-old self was anxious about the future, but I think I’m more relaxed about what might be ahead now.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?
I had a shot at ziplining when I was on holiday – that was pretty scary. A stiff drink at the bar afterwards was required!

Brian Denis Cox (actor) or Brian Edward Cox (scientist)?
Brian Denis Cox. Science has never really been my thing.

 

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