Please click here to read OSCR’s COVID-19 Guidance for Charities



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 2020 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

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 28th September 2020.

The research was carried out on our behalf by Breaking Blue, an independent market research organisation and member of the Market Research Society. It presents views from 1,010 Scottish adults and 1,102 charity representatives as well as findings from four focus groups with the general public (two each in Aberdeen and Glasgow) and eleven in-depth telephone interviews with charities.

The charity survey asked questions to help identify the challenges faced by charities and examine the perception of OSCR amongst charities. The public survey measured trust in charities, attitudes towards charity regulation and explored the impact of regulation on trustworthiness.

Key findings include:

  • Public trust has increased to an average score of 7.02 out of 10 in 2020 from 6.14 out of 10 in 2018. Trust was strongest for charities working in Scotland (7.2 out of 10), charities working with volunteers only (7.18 out of 10) and charities working locally (7.09 out of 10).
  • 93% of Scottish adults have given money, time or goods to a charity in the last year.
  • The importance of a charity’s cause was the most common reason for choosing to support a charity (56% of those who donate), followed by trustworthiness (44% of those who donate).
  • Feedback from charities found that OSCR is highly trusted to keep a reliable register (96%) and to regulate the charity sector fairly (94%).
  • 58% of the public said knowing how much of a donation goes to the cause and 55% said seeing evidence of what the charity has achieved would make them feel a charity was trustworthy.

OSCR encourages charities to be transparent and accountable in their work, but only 1 in 7 charities (14%) said that ensuring the public have access to annual reports and accounts was mainly the responsibility of individual charities and 1 in 6 view being transparent and accountable as mainly a charity’s responsibility (16%). In both cases around two fifths (40%) view these responsibilities as OSCR’s (with a further 40% believing the responsibility is shared).  

The Scottish Charity Register, charity registration logo and social media all allow charities to be more visible and accessible to the public than before. Being open and accountable demonstrates trustworthiness. It is also a crucial aspect of charity governance and plays an important role when seeking funding. 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 between February and March 2020, before the full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures. When combined with our recent COVID-19 impact on charities survey, 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: