Progressive, Proportionate and Preventative

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Raise a concern about a Charity

If you are concerned about the way a charity is being run, we want to hear from you.

Our Inquiry Policy sets out what you, the charity, and the public can expect from us. The Policy is designed to be helpful and easy to read, and we recommend that you have a look at this together with the rest of the information on this page before contacting us. 

• Inquiry Policy
• Fact sheet – What to expect if your charity is subject to an inquiry
• Fact sheet – OSCR’s formal powers

Before you contact us, it is important that you read the following information first, as there are some instances where your concern should be sent instead to the charity or another body to be dealt with. The following are examples of the types of concerns that we do want to know about.

Regulatory issues that we want to know about include:
  • Charities that are being used for private gain
  • Where a charity's independence is being called into question. We expect charity trustees to act independently of any private, government or political interest
  • When it is not clear who is in charge of the charity. For example:
    • one charity trustee seems to be in overall control of the charity
    • an employee seems to be in overall control of the charity, or
    • none of the charity trustees is taking responsibility - this can result in serious governance problems, which could harm the charity
  • When it appears that the charity's assets are at risk or not being used for charitable purposes
  • The charity is not carrying out the charitable purposes defined in its governing document
  • When an organisation is calling itself a charity when it is not (you can check if the organisation is entered in the Scottish Charity Register).

The list above is not absolute, so if you have other issues that concern you, please contact us.

The three examples below should, in the first instance, be reported to Police Scotland and then to us:
  • Serious harm or danger of harm to the people that the charity helps
  • Criminal or illegal activity within or involving a charity (this includes charities that are set up for an illegal or improper use)
  • Serious financial loss to a charity - this could include theft or embezzlement.


We have found that the majority of concerns we receive can be dealt with by the charity itself. The charity trustees are the people responsible for running the charity and it is only fair that they have the opportunity to deal with your concern in the first instance. This gives the charity trustees the opportunity to explain any misunderstandings, or to put things right if something has gone wrong.

The types of concerns that you should take up with the trustees include: 
  • Disputes and disagreements between charity trustees. We expect charity trustees to work together to act in the best interests of the charity to resolve any conflicts or arguments. The charity can seek help and advice from the local Third Sector Interface
  • Disputes between the charity's members and trustees. For example, it may be that the governing document clearly provides members with the power to make changes themselves
  • Matters relating to the service that the charity has provided.
Our Guidance and good practice for Charity Trustees provides more information about charity trustee duties.
Charity trustees are free to make decisions for their charity as long as these are within the powers of the law and the terms of their governing document. As a result, we do not have the power to overrule a valid decision taken by the trustees. If you do not agree with their decision, you should first speak to the trustees about it.

Additionally, we cannot usually become involved in the following issues, a it is not within our regulatory powers to do so:
  • Fundraising methods. See our Fundraising page for further information.
  • Employment issues, including
    • Unfair dismissal
    • Grievances such as discrimination, bullying and harassment
    • Terms of employment
    • Redundancy

ACAS or Citizens Advice Scotland may be able to help you with these.
  • Contracts that the charity has entered into, including when payment has not been made for outstanding bills.


If you decide that it is still appropriate to report your concerns to us, please complete the concern form. You can download and complete our updated Concern Form and post it to us, or complete our online form here. Please make sure that you provide all the information requested, as this helps us to consider your concerns as fully as possible. 

At all times, we will act in the public interest, not on behalf of individuals or groups. We will not usually communicate with you while an inquiry is ongoing, unless further information is required – but we will advise you of the final outcome.

You can read our recent inquiry reports here.

A video that summarises the information on this page can be viewed below: