Social Good Case Study

Impact Story – Morton Fraser and Edinburgh BATs

28 October 2021

two men shaking hands in front of a sign reading Morton Fraser
Iain Young and John Evans

How a lawyer at Morton Fraser helped a sports club become a charity

“Bring your skills…willing volunteers are worth their weight in gold!”

Fife-based lawyer Iain Young has worked at Morton Fraser for 12 years, six of them as Partner. Through Social Good Connect he’s been helping community sports education club Edinburgh BATs on its road to becoming a registered youth sports charity.

Why did the business get involved?

We asked Morton Fraser’s HR manager Lynda Clark…

We want to be able to give back. What I love about Social Good Connect is that as well as making the most of our existing professional skills, it enables people to contribute gifts, skills and attributes they’re not necessarily using at work. Iain definitely used a combination of both – legal expertise and rugby, all rolled into one placement!

Social Good Connect is the perfect managed scheme. What we have through you is an ideal ‘middle man’ who can take the skills of our employees and match them with the pressing needs of a charity.  And as well as individual placements such as Iain helping Edinburgh BATs sports club or Andrew helping The Food Train, we’re really interested in group volunteering opportunities. Before we teamed up with you, it was a challenge to find volunteering events. They either felt expensive to run, presented health and safety barriers or it took too long for the charities we approached to be able to make use of our skills.  The range of charities that we could help using your platform really appeals. It’s broader than you normally find and it opens your eyes to how varied volunteering can be.

In our talent management process, there are sometimes gaps in people’s professional development. Using Social Good Connect to find matches that can bring these skills out is a great solution. By doing these placements that they often bring new skills (that we didn’t even know they had!) or newly-honed skills back to the workplace and these become part of their development journey and story.

Who made the difference?

Lawyer and partner Iain Young tells his story…

photo of Iain Young partner of Morton Fraser
Iain Young, Morton Fraser

I volunteer as a rugby coach and referee and am regularly involved in helping various rugby-related committees and school projects. When we joined Social Good Connect it felt right to give something back in new ways, and I was keen to see how I could offer my skills and knowledge. It can often be the case that something you find easy is something others find difficult or may need professional advice on.

I was already aware through a colleague that this volunteering opportunity existed, and I knew some of the people involved through my existing rugby connections and coaching activities, so it was easy to hit the ground running once I’d signed up. It made sense to offer my skills to an organisation that needed legal expertise and experience. It was a straightforward and intuitive process.

The community sports education club Edinburgh BATS is in the process of seeking registered charity status. They do great work with teenagers from all backgrounds through outreach in north Edinburgh schools, providing access to exercise, connections, life skills, a sense of purpose and fresh air. Rugby plays a big part.

They wanted help with their application for official charity status and incorporation. Over three months I’ve helped them prepare a draft constitution to submit to the Scottish Charity Regulator. The role required significant legal expertise in the charitable field and at Morton Fraser we have many charities as clients, such as sports clubs and independent schools. Preparing applications and understanding the charitable framework is part of my day-to-day working life, while coaching and playing sport is a big part of my personal life. A great opportunity to combine the two!

While the application to OSCR is being processed, I’ll gladly remain involved and act as a sounding board for any issues that may arise during the foundation of the charity. Personally I really enjoy giving back and I get a sense of wellbeing from helping others. People don’t always realise that their skillset could be extremely useful to other people and organisations. You can help just by offering a relatively small amount of time.

The other benefit is that I’ve got one of our younger trainees involved. He’s keen to learn more about sports law and this process has been a valuable education for him. We’ve both spent several hours working on the draft constitution as part of our working day.

Who benefited from the help?

We spoke to John Evans, team manager and board member at Edinburgh BATS community sports club

photo of John Evans of Edinburgh BATs
John Evans, Edinburgh BATs

Iain’s support with legal advice and guidance has been brilliant and invaluable. Your team was outstanding in helping us find a volunteer and acting as a sounding board throughout. Without Social Good Connect it would have taken longer and been more difficult to find a volunteer with the level of legal expertise we need.

Achieving charity status takes time and detailed knowledge of legal frameworks. In helping us draft the constitution we need to submit to the regulator, Iain has helped us make vital adjustments and stay on course, ever since the beginning of the journey.

By becoming a freestanding charity we can achieve a greater focus on charitable activity under our own wing through all kinds of community and outreach work. We’ll be able to do what we do best for young people’s development and quality of life and have improved access to sources of fundraising and our official trustee structure will give us strong governance.

Social Good Connect’s vast network of businesses, volunteers and charities is a real enabler – it acts as a pivot to swing us towards a whole range of useful contacts and gives us a rich vein of professional advice and potential volunteers to tap into. I was introduced by investment firm Baillie Gifford, who have supported both Social Good Connect and the Leith Trust in recent months.

What next?

Now we can focus on our next stage of growth and development, and I hope we continue a growing relationship with Social Good Connect. Your focus on bringing skilled help fits with the Leith Gives model created by the Leith Trust and we’ll turn to your platform and team in future to seek volunteers for other projects happening under the Leith Trust banner.

Joining up will challenge socially responsible business to redefine how they think about volunteering.  As for charities, be clear about what you need and be prepared to take refinements from the team about toles and requirements. This is a long-term relationship and dialogue. Willing volunteers are worth their weight in gold and Social Good Connect helps you tap into networks that can find them!

John has helped various organisations achieve charity status, and is familiar with the requirements and complexities of preparing an application to the charities regulator. He was instrumental in setting up charitable collective Leith Gives, of which Edinburgh BATs has been an active member during the pandemic.

Edinburgh BATs was formed 20 years ago by Broughton, Edinburgh Accies and Trinity Rugby clubs.

Join 100s of people and hear Caroline’s Thursday Thoughts.

Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!

So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.