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Revitalising Trusts Project

In February 2021, we reported that OSCR was planning to embark on a new two-year project in collaboration with Foundation Scotland to make contact with charitable trusts that appear to be inactive and to offer support to their charity trustees with plans for breathing new life into their dormant or underused funds. We are very pleased to announce that the Revitalising Trusts Project has now started with the appointment by Foundation Scotland of a part-time Project Advisor, Steff Bell. Steff will be working closely with OSCR colleagues over the next few months to identify trusts that match the Project criteria.  More news about the Project will appear on this page as it progresses but here we answer some commonly asked questions to introduce the Project.


The Revitalising Trusts Project has been established to ensure funds from inactive or dormant charitable trusts are ‘unlocked’ to support good causes across Scotland.

OSCR is working in collaboration with Foundation Scotland, Scotland’s community foundation to enable this to happen.

For this Project, OSCR has defined an inactive or dormant trust as one which has:

  • Not spent or received any money in the last five years; or
  • Spent less than 30% of its income in the last five years.

Even though many of these trusts are very small, collectively, they hold a significant amount that could make a huge difference to local communities if we can revitalise them.

A similar project has been enormously successful in England, and since 2018 it has revitalised over £30million of inactive funds. These funds have been managed by local community foundations and other charities, distributing vital funding to community projects throughout the country.

OSCR’s vision is for charities that make a positive contribution and in which the public has confidence. The public quite rightly expects charities to use their funds effectively to improve the lives of people and communities.

OSCR keeps a public Register of charities which is periodically reviewed to ensure that all entries on the Register continue to meet the ‘charity test’.

To remain registered as a charity a body must provide public benefit. OSCR looks at the activities of a charity to decide whether they provide public benefit. If a charity is inactive, or it appears to be carrying on very little activity, it may not be providing public benefit. The risk is greater if the charity has been inactive for some time.

OSCR and Foundation Scotland are committed to seeing charities provide public benefit and make a difference to Scotland's communities. Together the two organisations have the resources and experience to assist charities in their journey to ensure that they can continue to do so.

Foundation Scotland has appointed a Project Advisor who will be working closely with charity trustees to assist them in addressing any issues of inactivity (with support from OSCR). She will also link the experience and knowledge of the Foundation Scotland team with regard to grant making, fund management and local community funding.

A reference group made up of charity specialists from across Scotland will oversee the Project.

Your trust will only be contacted if it appears to be inactive, dormant or carrying on very little activity based on the criteria explained above. This will be based on the information in your annual accounts and annual returns for the past five years. The principal contact for your trust will receive a letter or email from OSCR, explaining that Foundation Scotland will be getting in touch. This way you can be sure that the contact is genuine.

If you are not sure who your principal contact is, you can check your charity’s entry on the charity Register, by searching here. If your principal contact information is out of date or inaccurate please use OSCR Online to update it or email OSCR at

More details and questions about the Project will follow over the next few weeks, so you may want to keep a watch on this page as the Project develops. However, if you would like to know more now please contact:

For media inquiries:  

OSCR – John Fellows, Senior Manager, Digital and Communications 
Foundation Scotland – Camille Craig, Marketing Manager

About the Project:     

OSCR - Steve Kent, Policy Manager
Foundation Scotland – Steff Bell, Project Advisor