Progressive, Proportionate and Preventative

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Annual Monitoring

It's about public confidence

We are required to monitor, encourage and facilitate charities' compliance with charity law and to increase public confidence in charities. 

There are around 1020 charities that are registered both with us and with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.  Cross border charities complete Section A of the online Annual Return plus one additional question about charitable activities in Scotland.

Have you signed up for our Online Services?  This makes the submission process easier and helps you to get it right.  More than 96% of Scottish charities have already done so. Find out more here.

 Your charity must provide us with:

  • a completed online Annual Return, issued by us to every charity; and
  • a signed copy of the latest set of annual accounts.

These must be sent to us within 9 months of your charity's financial year end date.

You can find out more information on how to complete your online Annual Return in our guidance

Completing our forms is easy, but you may find it useful to have a copy of your founding document and your accounts to hand. Please contact us on 01382 220446 or email us at if you have any questions.

We now check a very small percentage of accounts prior to publication on the Register. If we find anything during these checks we will either reject the submission and request resubmission or we will highlight any deficiencies or errors identified and provide guidance on how the accounts should be prepared for next year.

If you fail to submit the required documents on time, you will be classed as a non submitting charity. Your charity's Register entry will be highlighted in red to inform the public that your returns and accounts are overdue. You can search for non submitting charities on the Scottish Charity Register.

We actively pursue non submitting charities to ensure charity funds are transparently and publicly accounted for and that assets are protected.

If your charity is removed from the Register, you must still prepare and submit accounts to us for any outstanding charity assets held at the time of removal. Read our Former Charities page for more information.

In general, if a charity does nothing for a prolonged period, it is unlikely to be providing public benefit, and this may result in it failing the charity test. There are some exceptions where this principle does not apply. We call these ‘inactive charities’.

One type of inactive charity is where a charity is set up to act if a particular event occurs in the future, and where public benefit is provided because the charity is there ‘just in case’. 

For example:

  • a charity is set up to relieve the needs of those who might be made homeless by flooding in a flood-prone area of Scotland – there may be no floods and therefore no activity for several years, but the existence of the charity allows prompt relief should a flood occur.

Another type of inactive charity is a ‘legacy’ charity:

  • where one charity is replaced or taken over by another, the charity which has been taken over continues purely to receive legacies and pass them to the new charity – there may be long periods where no money is received or transferred, but the ‘legacy’ charity provides benefit by making sure that donations reach the right destination.

Where an inactive charity remains on the Register, it will still need to meet all the requirements of being a charity.

In particular it must:

  • meet the charity test
  • have charity trustees who comply with all the charity trustee duties
  • comply with annual monitoring: preparing and submitting accounts, trustees’ annual report and the Online annual return.