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2. Who will run the charity?

Published: 16/04/2024
Updated: 30/04/2024

A charity needs people to run it. All charities must have charity trustees; some charities have members, staff and/or volunteers.

Charity trustees are the people in overall control and management of a charity.  They may be called directors, management committee members or committee members, but charity trustees, are trusted to look after the charity’s assets and are responsible for making sure that the charity fulfils its charitable purpose(s)

Charity trustee duties

The duties of a charity trustee are set out in law and must be followed. If charity trustee duties are not followed, OSCR may take action.

Charity trustees must:

1. Always do what is best for your charity:
As a charity trustee you have a legal responsibility to put the interests of your charity above your own interests. All the charity trustees are collectively responsible for making sure that the charity is run properly and lawfully. 

2. Act with care and diligence:
You have to protect your charity including its beneficiaries, assets and reputation. 

3. Understand your charity’s legal responsibilities:
Make sure your charity is meeting its legal duties under charity law and other relevant laws. 

More information on trustee duties is available in the next section.

Who cannot be a charity trustee

Certain people are disqualified from acting as charity trustees. However, we have the power to waive a disqualification if a person applies to us and meets the relevant criteria. Those who are disqualified are: 

  • someone with an unspent conviction for dishonesty or an offence under the 2005 Act
  • someone who is an undischarged bankrupt or has a Protected Trust Deed to pay off debts with creditors
  • someone who has been removed under either Scottish or English Law from being a charity trustee
  • someone who is disqualified from being a company director.

How many charity trustees do we need to have?

When you become a charity, you must choose a legal form. More information about legal forms can be found here. Depending on the legal form you chose, you may need a minimum number of charity trustees.

If your charity is a SCIO, you must have at least three charity trustees as stated in the SCIO Regulations. For other legal forms, there is no legal number of charity trustees, but it is good practice to have at least three.