A charity in Scotland is an organisation which is entered on the Scottish Charity Register. An organisation can only become a charity if it meets the ‘charity test’, meaning that it must show it has only charitable purposes and benefits the public.
If you become a charity, you will be granted a status that recognises a contribution to society but also carries ongoing legal responsibilities 'Charity trustee duties'.
Becoming a charity is not a rubber stamping exercise: you have to demonstrate to us and those that you deal with that you meet the legal requirements and you must continue to do so throughout the life of the charity.
Setting up a charity is just the start of the journey. Having a longer term plan, beyond your individual involvement in the charity, is a key part of running a charity.
A charity needs people to run it. All charities must have charity trustees, some charities have members, staff and/or volunteers.
Remember: it is against the law to describe yourself as a charity unless you are on the Scottish Charity Register.
To be a charity in Scotland you must meet the charity test. This applies equally to existing charities and organisations that want to be charities.
The charity test means you must
Charity trustees are at the centre of running a charity. They are the people who have general control and management of a charity. The duties are set out in law and charity trustees must follow them. If these duties are not followed OSCR may take action.
1. Always do what is best for your charity:
2. Act with care and diligence:
3. Understand your charity’s legal responsibilities:
The role of a charity trustee is similar to the director of a company – they might not do all the day to day work but they are the people who are legally responsible for the charity and what it does. Where a charity is a company then the directors are the charity trustees.
If you become a charity trustee this means you will:
All charities have specific duties that they have to follow: