Age Scotland forging ahead through innovation and enterprise.


Age Scotland forging ahead through innovation and enterprise.

Age Scotland’s vision is a Scotland where everyone can love later life. Age Scotland believe life is for living, and everyone should have the opportunity to live happily and well, for as long as they can. Its determination to support that as a charity has lead it down new income generation paths that have reaped huge rewards. This is how they did it.

Age Scotland has now separated its business enterprises (Age Scotland Enterprises) from the charity to form Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises. Heading up this new venture is former Age Scotland Chief Executive, Brian Sloan. Brian worked in the Private Sector until 2009 when he decided to make a step-change with a move to the third sector. This new role combines his extensive private and third sector experience.

Age Scotland Enterprises was previously a joint venture with Age UK’s commercial arm, Age UK Enterprises. Full control was moved to Age Scotland last year and with its separation from the charity became Age Scotland Commercial Services. They can still sell some of the same products such as travel, car and home insurance deals, but are also developing new products and services. These include “Planning for Your Future” training for people who will retire in the next few years. Retirement is a huge transition and many older people are just left to it. These courses offer practical advice on how to manage the process from a legal, financial and health perspective.

Another offering is age awareness training provided to employers. With a rapidly ageing population, employers are recognising that they need to be better prepared for having a greater number of older workers. These employees bring a huge wealth of experience and the age awareness courses offer practical tips on how to get the best out of the most loyal and reliable section of the workforce. Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises aims to grow the business to ensure more sustainable income for the charity and make it less reliant on grant funding.

The result? Trading now accounts for almost 30% of Age Scotland’s £3.5 million annual income and 100% of net profits from Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises is gift-aided back to the charity.

Age Scotland Commercial Enterprises have their own board with expertise drawn from a range of industries. This board then reports to the Age Scotland Charity Board. This means that they don’t have “commercial opportunities going straight to a charity board, which might not have the appropriate skill set to scrutinise them.” However, final approval will always remain with the charity as the protection of the reputation of Age Scotland is paramount. This social enterprise model, taken to a whole new level, has paid dividends for this once charity. Perhaps with the funding challenges facing charities right now, it’s time to consider whether a similar model could work for you?