Charity Trustees are responsible for the governance and strategy of their charity. They are responsible for making sure that their charity is administered effectively and can account for its activities and outcomes.
Who are charity trustees?
Charity trustees are the people who make up the governing body
and have "general control and management" of a charity. They
can also be known as: directors, management committee members, or
What is expected of charity trustees?
Our Guidance for Charity Trustees sets out the duties and
responsibilities of charity trustees in Scotland. It also offers
examples of good practice in the governance of charities, which
should help charity trustees fulfil their duties and
Who's in Charge?
When it is unclear
who is in charge of a charity, serious governance problems can
develop and harm the charity's activities and reputation. This
guidance explains why clarity about who is in charge of a charity
is crucial. It also sets out how the principles within the
Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, particularly
the duties on charity trustees to act in the interests of their
charity, dictate the way in which those running a charity must
In summary, Section 66 of the Charities and Trustee Investment
(Scotland) Act ("The 2005 Act") sets out:
- four general duties which are fundamental to
- a number of specific duties which charity
trustees must comply with.
A charity trustee must:
1. Act in the interest of the
charity: trustees should put the interests of their
charity before their own interests or those of any other person or
2. Operate in a manner consistent with
the charity's purposes: trustees should carry out their
duties in accordance with their governing document.
3. Act with due care and
diligence: trustees should take such care of their
charity's affairs as is reasonable to expect of someone who is
managing the affairs of another person.
4. Ensure that the charity complies
with the provisions of the 2005 Act and other
Checklist for Charity Trustees - protecting charitable
status sets out some of the key areas charity trustees
should keep in mind to ensure in particular that their charity
continues to meet the requirements of the charity test.
Additional duties for charity trustees include:
1. Updating your charity's
trustees must make sure that we hold the latest
information about their charity on the Scottish Charity
Register. Charities must first seek our prior consent before
taking certain actions. More information about when a charity
must contact us for consent and when they must tell us after
certain changes have been made is available on our Making changes
to your charity page
2. Reporting to OSCR:
complying with the statutory duty to supply certain
information to us:
3. Financial record keeping and
reporting: section 44 of the 2005 Act states that
- keep proper accounting records
- prepare a statement of account, including a report on its
activities, at the end of each financial year
- have the statement of account independently examined or
- send a copy of the accounts, along with the annual return, to
Accounting records should be kept by the charity for a minimum
of 6 years from the end of the financial year in which they were
4. Fundraising: trustees are
responsible for taking control of how their charity fundraises.
5. Providing information to the public:
trustees must make sure that their charity meets
the statutory provisions when referring to their charitable
status, e.g. in advertisements, and in their duty to provide
information about their charity to the public.
Charity trustees must act in the interests of the
charity. Any personal benefit to a charity trustee,
whether direct or indirect, has to be treated with
caution. Read our Trustee Remuneration
page for more information.
Trustee investment powers
Sections 93 to 95
of the 2005 Act sets out the powers of investment of trustees and
associated duties. Trustees are entitled to make any kind of
investment of the trust estate, including a wider power to acquire
stocks and shares. However, these powers are subject to
restrictions and exclusions and do not extend to certain categories
of trustees. Further information about the restrictions
and exclusions can be found in our guidance document
Publicising charitable status
All charities entered into the Scottish Charity Register have a
duty to promote their charitable status, find out more by reading
our Publicising Charitable
Breach of duty
OSCR has a duty to act where there is evidence that charity
trustees are behaving improperly. Our response will be
proportionate depending on the breach. Further information on how
we will take action in cases of misconduct is available in
our guidance document (above).