AFTER just four weeks of fundraising, the Scottish Independence Convention has achieved the halfway figure in its attempt to raise £180,000 to pay for a new campaign organisation.

Thanks to a crowdfunding exercise and a substantial donation, the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) has raised more than £90,000.

The SIC has revealed to The National that it is ready to start recruiting staff at the end of the month – expect that announcement to come around the time of St Andrew’s Day.

In the meantime, the cross-party non-partisan SIC is today launching a fundraising push in a bid to get nearer to the £180,000 target figure.

The SIC has also been working with a graphic design and branding company that is said to be “well into the process” of creating an identity for the new organisation whose aim will be to assist the Yes movement with such matters as communications and training.

The company has already been carrying out interviews with Yes groups and the general public to see what is needed by the Yes movement ahead of the second independence referendum.

The new organisation’s name will be unveiled early in the new year, but the rapid progress in fundraising made by the SIC means they can appoint at least two staff members out of the five that will eventually be employed.

A firm of lawyers is already setting up a company structure to enable the new organisation to hit the ground running.

Dave Thompson, SIC vice convener said: “We’ve been really bowled over by the support for this initiative. With so many other important things going on and this being the run-up to Christmas, that we’ve got to our half-way mark so quickly is brilliant.

“We are moving forward with everything we need to do to get this organisation set up and, thanks to the amazing support of the independence movement, we’ll be in a position to start making a real impact in the new year.”

The SIC is well aware that many people in the Yes movement are keen to know what the new campaign organisation will do and how it is going to go about it – The National posed some of these questions the day after the SIC announced its formation, and satisfactory answers were given by SIC convener Elaine C Smith.

An SIC source said they acknowledged that some people in the movement are wary of what could be seen as a ‘top down’ approach to running a referendum campaign. “We are not going to mess with the work that people are already doing,” said the source.

The SIC council includes the SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialist Party, Common Weal, the Radical Independence Campaign, Women for Independence, Scottish CND, Business for Scotland, NHS for Yes and Pensioners for Independence.

The new organisation, and for that matter the SIC, will not be tasked with making policies and strategies for the entire Yes movement – there will be no ‘official line’ from either body for the Yes movement to follow.

“In no way will there be a policy-making body laying it down to the Yes movement,” said the source. “Instead we see the new organisation as a support system for the Yes groups and other campaigners for independence.

From early in the new year, the campaign organisation will work with Yes groups around the country, lending professional support to the movement’s efforts. The immediate aim of the organisation will be to boost support for independence to a position regularly above 50% in opinion polls prior to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon triggering the second referendum.

The SIC’s public attitude research surveys have found that some of the people that the campaign will target – No voters who may be thinking of changing their minds, mainly – are already engaged or interested in having a conversation about independence, but many No or non-voters are less engaged.

The “soft no” sector – people who may be prepared to change their votes – and people in the “undecided” category are large groups that the campaign organisation will target, and Yes groups will be supported with assistance and training so that communication with these sectors is improved.

Thompson added: “One of the things we’re doing is trying to add to the great things the independence movement is doing by focussing on groups that are hardest to reach. The research work we’ve done suggests that there is a large group of undecided and soft No voters who are by no means completely hostile to listening to the case for independence again.

But it also tells us that what we’re doing at the moment isn’t quite getting to them.

“Preparing really good materials and arguments to help to reach that group of voters is among the first things we hope to do.”