How to set up a charity in Scotland.
There are many advantages to becoming a charity, but you will
need to consider whether this is the best option for your
organisation. Basic information about the benefits of
charitable status is available from our Becoming a Charity in Scotland leaflet.
An organisation can only become a charity if it meets the
charity test, meaning it must have only charitable purposes as
defined in charity law and it must provide public benefit.
Our Meeting the Charity Test full
guidance and The Charity Test - a brief guide will
provide further information on the charity test.
Once registered, charities must meet a number of legal
responsibilities set out in charity law, including reporting to us
on an annual basis. Charities also have to comply with other
relevant legislation, for example charitable companies must
also comply with company law.
Preparing to become a charity
If you would like your organisation to become a charity, there
are a number of things to consider before applying. These
- Deciding what kind of organisation you would like to
be, for example a company, trust, Scottish Charitable
Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) or an association.
- Deciding who will run your charity. Read our Charity
Trustee Duties page and our guidance for
charity trustees for further information.
- Preparing a governing document, for example a constitution,
setting out your organisation's purposes and how your charity will
- Deciding what your charity's name will be. We cannot
register a charity whose name is the same or too similar to an
existing one, or is misleading or offensive. Please check the
Scottish Charity Register
before deciding on your charity's name. More information
on names and charity law is available in our Changing Your
Charity's Name guidance.
Managing your charity
Before applying for charitable status, it is important for you
to understand the operating and reporting requirements for
registered charities. The Managing your Charity section of the
website provides guidance on this.
Help in setting up your charity
While we can advise you on the application process and
meeting our requirements, we are unable to help you with setting up
Information and guidance about setting up a charity is available
- The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).
- Your local Third Sector
Interface, organisations which offer support to voluntary
- Organisations considering applying for charitable status may
also wish to consult a professional adviser. The Law Society of Scotland and
the Institute of Chartered Accountants in
Scotland may be able to help you identify a professional
firm with expertise in charity law and accounting.
- HMRC will be able to help you with any questions
you may have about tax.
- The Scottish Government's website has an Enterprising
Third Sector Zone which gives details of help and practical
Applying for charitable status
Our How to
Apply page provides advice on the charitable status application