Read about OSCR and our work.
We are the independent registrar and regulator of
Scotland's 23,500 charities, including community groups, care
providers, environmental groups, religious charities, schools,
universities, leisure facilities, and grant-giving charities.
We are a Non-Ministerial Department, which means that we do not
report directly to Scottish Ministers but to the Scottish
Parliament. Based in Dundee, we have 55 staff and an annual
spend of around £3million.
"Our vision is for charities you can trust and that
provide public benefit."
We were established under the Charities and Trustee Investment
(Scotland) Act 2005, the first legislation dedicated specifically
to the governance of the Scottish charity sector. The 2005
Act sets out our powers and gives us five specific functions:
- We consider applications from organisations seeking to become
- We publish and maintain the Scottish Charity Register
- We monitor charities and work to encourage their compliance
with the 2005 Act
- We receive and investigate complaints about charities and have
powers to address misconduct
- We provide information and make recommendations to Scottish
Ministers on charity matters.
Since April 2006, we have granted charitable status to over
5,000 new charities and removed some 8,000 defunct charities from
Our Annual Review sets out our work over
the past year and provides key statistics and information.
This area of the website will be developed further over the
course of this year and will include useful links and Frequently
Asked Questions. Why not make it a favourite, or bookmark us
to view new items, or subscribe to our RSS feeds
or our e-newsletter, OSCR Reporter, for the latest
You can also follow us on Twitter! @ScotCharityReg
Why is charity regulation important?
OSCR as regulator provides reassurance and transparency to the
public about charities. Some 23,500 charities are registered
in Scotland, and their combined income is estimated at around
£10billion a year. Charities depend ultimately on funding and
donations from the public, and regulation means that charities
account to the public for the assets they hold and show that they
are working to deliver their stated charitable purposes.
Our research indicates that the public - and charities
themselves - value the reassurance that our role and work
provides. When we carried out our
most recent survey:
- 95% of the public said that our role is essential or
- 71% of the public said that knowing about OSCR gives them more
trust in charities
- 89% of charities said that our documentation is now 'part and
parcel' of what they do.
You can read our most recent stakeholder research here.
The Scottish Charity Register
The 2005 Act gives the legal definition of a charity as a body
entered in the Scottish Charity Register.
The Scottish Charity Register is updated on a daily basis, and
allows the public to check whether an organisation is a
charity. Each charity's Register entry also provides
financial information, including a charity's submissions history in
providing its accounts to OSCR. The Register entry will show
where a charity is late in submitting its accounts, and where we
issue a Direction to a charity to take certain action. Larger
charities have more detailed financial information displayed
through charts and graphs.
You can search the Register for charities
by name, by Scottish Charity Number, by charitable purposes or by
local authority area. You can also search for ceased
charities, charities that are late in submitting returns, and
charities that have applied to OSCR to reorganise.
How must charities report to OSCR?
Every charity must complete an Annual Return form and provide us
with a set of its accounts within 9 months of its accounting year
end. Larger charities - those with an annual income over
£25,000 - must also complete a Supplementary Monitoring Return
form which provides more detailed financial information.
We revised our forms with the launch of our new online services in
June 2012, to make these easier to complete.
Where a charity fails to submit its returns and accounts on
time, we take steps to re-engage with the charity. We have
powers to take action and where we determine that public benefit is
not being provided, we may remove the charity from the
How is OSCR run?
We have a Board, Chaired by The Very Reverend Dr Graham Forbes
CBE, which sets our strategic direction. Our operational
priorities are delivered by OSCR staff headed by our Chief
Executive, David Robb, and our Senior Management Team. OSCR
has four operational teams:
- Support Services.
Elsewhere in our website, you can find information about OSCR's
governance, including our performance statistics and
information about our Board Members and Senior Management Team.
Information about charities
The public is entitled to ask for certain information from
charities direct. Section 23 of the 2005 Act entitles you to
a charity's most recent set of accounts and a copy of its
constitution. Because these documents are publicly available,
we do not publish them ourselves. Should a charity refuse to
provide this information on reasonable request, we would view this
as potential misconduct and may take action against it.
Fundraising activities are largely self-regulated by the sector,
through the Fundraising Standards Board
and the Institute of
You do not have to be a registered charity to raise funds.
Individuals, communities and commercial businesses may raise funds
for charitable purposes, or on behalf of a specific charity.
However, certain rules do apply. Under self-regulation,
fundraisers are expected to meet certain standards that are set by
the Institute of Fundraising and are set out in the Institute's Code of Fundraising
Before you give a donation, you may want to find out more about
the organisation you are giving money to. Together with the UK's
other charity regulators in England and Wales, and Northern
Ireland, we have published guidance for the public on
Concerns about fundraising
If you have a complaint about bad fundraising practice by a
charity, you should contact the charity directly first. A charity
is ultimately responsible for its own fundraising and any
activities that professional fundraisers are carrying out on its
behalf. You can search our online Register for
charities' addresses and website details.
Bad fundraising practice
If you are unhappy with the charity's response, and your concern
is about bad fundraising practice, such as how you
were approached in the street by a fundraiser, please contact the
Board (FRSB), which is the independent body that deals
with public complaints.
If you are in Scotland, you can contact the FRSB with a general
enquiry or to make a complaint at email@example.com
Advertising by fundraisers
If you have a concern about advertising
relating to fundraising, contact the Advertising Standards
Authority You can read ASA's guide to making a complaint
The Scottish Charity Regulator and fundraising
We have powers to act where an organisation is claiming to be a
charity but is not entered in the Scottish Charity
Charity trustees should ensure their charity acts responsibly
and legally. We must be proportionate and fair and will usually
intervene only if there is a clear and significant risk to
charitable assets or the reputation of the charity or charity
sector in general.
Generally we will take up a complaint against a charity
involving fundraising where there is evidence of serious wrongdoing
or misconduct, for instance where fundraising is:
- losing a lot of the charity's money
- being used for personal profit
- supporting criminal or terrorist activity.
Complaining about a charity
Our experience is that wilful misconduct among charities in
Scotland is very rare. We handle around 400 complaints about
charities each year, the great majority of which are resolved
through dialogue between ourselves and the charity concerned.
In some cases we will make recommendations to the charity's
trustees to improve how the charity works, or we may direct them to
take certain actions. In some cases we have applied to the
Court to protect the assets of a charity or to suspend a charity's
Our Inquiry and Intervention
Policy sets out our remit and our powers, and what the public,
charities and complainers can expect from us.
We also have an online complaints form which you can view