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The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) regularly commissions Scottish charity and public surveys to give us further knowledge of charity life and public trust. The latest surveys took place in February 2022 and you can find the results of our surveys in the Scottish Charity Survey section below.

In 2020 OSCR commissioned two additional surveys to help us understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Scottish charities. You can find the results in the COVID-19 impact on charities surveys section below.

In May and November 2020, OSCR emailed the principal contact of all Scottish charities asking them to complete a survey on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and restrictions on their charity.

The surveys provide insights from a cross section of registered Scottish charities. These findings are being used to inform OSCR’s work, as well as to help local and national government, funders, public bodies and others in supporting the Scottish charity sector.

May survey

November Survey

November Survey Open Responses

The November COVID-19 survey included a two part open question which was completed by 1,583 charities. Many experiences, thoughts, comments and things charities learned were shared in the open responses. The findings reflect the diversity of Scottish charities and show that the impact and experiences of the pandemic were widely varied. We told the charities that ‘Your Voice Matters’ and this qualitative analysis draws together what charities were saying behind the figures given in the statistical analysis of the survey. 

Read the November COVID-19 survey: Open Responses Introduction and Overview

The Introduction and Overview includes links to the six separate findings documents:

Detailed Survey Data

We are making the survey data tables available for further research and analysis. You can also access brief notes on this data and copies of the May questionnaire and November questionnaire.

Our blogs from August 2020 ‘An unequal picture – the impact of COVID-19 on Scottish charities’ and March 2021 ‘Research shows COVID challenges for Scottish charities’ reflect on the survey findings.

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) regularly commissions surveys on Scottish charities to give us further knowledge of charity life and public trust and confidence.

Our latest survey results were published on the 16th June 2022.

The research was carried out on our behalf by DJS Research, an independent market research organisation and member of the Market Research Society. It presents views from 1,502 Scottish adults and 2,347 charity representatives as well as findings from four online focus groups with the general public and fifteen in-depth interviews by telephone or video conference calls with charities.

The 2022 Scottish Public and Charity Surveys represents the first opportunity for us to understand how the relationship between the Scottish public and the charity sector has evolved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Findings include that over the past two years:

  • Trust in charities remains stable, with a mean score of 6.8 out of 10. This compares to 7.02 in 2020, 6.14 in 2018 and 6.08 in 2016. Almost nine in ten (86%) members of the public have also donated to charity this year, with 15% volunteering their time.
  • Charities reported that financial concerns were their most pressing issues, with 80% of charities reported that financial issues surrounding funding and running costs were among their top three challenges.
  • The Scottish public predict that charities will play an even more important role in people’s lives over the coming years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the increases in cost of living, the conflict in Ukraine, and other macroeconomic changes continue making the lives of vulnerable people more challenging.
  • Around 9 in 10 of the Scottish public view the role of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in regulating Scotland’s 25,000 charities as important.

Charities continue to view OSCR as highly trusted to perform in all its key functions, especially to keep a reliable charity register (92%, decreased since 2020 96%), to regulate the Scottish charity sector fairly (87%, decreased since 2020 94%). Investigating possible misconduct (52%) and taking action against wrongdoing (46%) are the most commonly chosen ways in which the Scottish public believed OSCR could maintain trust in the charity sector but some members of the general public referred to very low awareness of OSCR, feeling that a basic assumption that charities were being regulated would maintain some level of trust in the sector. Despite low levels of awareness of the Scottish Charity Regulator and its specific functions (see chapter 8), the public has historically believed the role of OSCR to be an important one. 

The Scottish Charity Register, charity registration logo and social media all allow charities to be more visible and accessible to the public than before. The survey reiterates the public perception of a relationship between transparency and trust. It also found that the most important foundations for public trust are those over which charities themselves have the greatest influence. This research provides detailed information that will help OSCR work with charities to ensure the public are more informed and have a greater understanding of the sector and the work it does.

The fieldwork for the research was undertaken in February 2022. When combined with our 2021 COVID-19 impact on charities surveys, the results provide important evidence and insights on the challenges facing the sector and OSCR’s role in supporting a trusted sector that contributes to society and operates to the highest standards.

You can read the results from our previous surveys below: