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Step 3 10 Questions to ask if you’re thinking about setting up a charity

Published: 02/04/2019
Updated: 21/05/2019


1. Do you need to set up a charity?

What will you do?

Who will you help?

2. Who will run the charity?

Do you have a team ready to be charity trustees?

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

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. 

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
3. Do you understand the duties charity trustees must take on?

Acting in the interests of the charity.

Acting with care and diligence.

Preparing and submitting accounts every year.

Providing information to the public.

4. Where will you get funding from?

How much will you need and where will it come from?

How will you keep the charity going?

Will you have a sustainable funding model?

  • Public sector funding is becoming increasingly stretched.
  • Donations from the public are not always a sustainable source.
5. What activities do you plan to carry out?

Will you provide services directly?

Will you give grants to people or organisations?  

Will you campaign on issues?

Remember: fundraising is a way of raising income, not a way of directly achieving your aims.

6. How long will your charity last?

Do you have a specific project to you will deliver in a set timescale?

Will the charity be an ongoing long-term venture?

7. Where will the charity be based?

Where will you operate from?

Will you have premises?

Will you work in a specific location or across local authorities/countries?

If your application is successful a contact address will need to go on the Scottish Charity Register. This can be:

a)    the address of the principal office of the charity or,

b)    if the charity does not have a principal office the name and address of one of the charity trustees.

If you are a SCIO this address must be in Scotland.

8. What assets might you need?

Assets can include:

  • Premises, like an office
  • Equipment
  • Vehicles

9. What ongoing costs might you have?

Costs can include:

  • Utilities
  • Taxes
  • Rent
  • Licences
  • Insurance
  • Salaries
  • Pensions
10. What happens if the charity doesn’t work out?

You might not want to think about it at this stage, but if you decide that you don’t want the charity to continue there are legal processes you must follow. You can’t just walk away or put the charity on hold - there’s no such thing as a ‘dormant’ charity.