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Self-regulation and OSCR's role

Published: 21/02/2018
Updated: 21/02/2018



The fundraising landscape in the UK can be complex. Fundraising regulation is a mix of statutory and non-statutory rules and involves different regulators depending on the rules involved.

Charity trustees of Scottish charities have legal duties and responsibilities under the 2005 Act. We explain how these relate to fundraising in the next section.

The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out the standards expected of all fundraising across the UK.

UK fundraising regulation is split between:

  • non-statutory regulation: standards set which cover the legal requirements and best practice
  • statutory regulation: requirements set out in law.

These two types of regulation fall under different organisations:


Non-statutory regulation: The Code of Fundraising Practice and Rulebooks

Statutory regulation: Charity law


Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel

Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)

England and Wales



Fundraising Regulator (including cross-border charities)


Charity Commission for England and Wales

Northern Ireland

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland


Self-regulation – legal responsibilities and best practice 
In Scotland the system of non-statutory regulation is referred to as self-regulation, in the rest of the UK non-statutory regulation is referred to as independent regulation.  This means that charities are the first point of call for any concerns about their fundraising and that charities play a role in setting the fundraising standards for the sector.  

The Code of Fundraising Practice and its associated Rulebooks for face to face fundraising  outline the standards and legal responsibilities expected of all charitable fundraising across the UK. The standards were developed by the fundraising community through the work of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and Public Fundraising Association (PFRA).

The Fundraising Regulator now has responsibility for the Code and the rulebooks.

Fundraising complaints
Under self-regulation, individual charities are the first point of call for any complaints about fundraising practices. Making sure charities can have robust procedures in place for dealing with complaints is a key part of self-regulation. If your charity doesn’t have a complaints procedure that covers fundraising you might want to adopt the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel's model complaints handling procedure.

Where a charity is unable to resolve the complaint, the complainant can escalate it to one of the following:

The Institute of Fundraising is the professional membership body for UK fundraising and has a range of guidance and advice on many fundraising matters.

OSCR’s role – statutory regulation
OSCR is responsible for making sure that charities follow the rules under the 2005 Act. OSCR will only usually become involved in a fundraising complaint where there is a risk to public trust and confidence in the charity or the wider sector. Specific concerns we look at are:

  • a breach of charity trustee duties, or misconduct which includes mismanagement, by the charity’s trustees
  • a risk to charitable assets.

Other laws
As well as the rules under the 2005 Act and the 2009 Regulations there are a range of rules that you should be aware of that apply to different types of fundraising activities, which are not covered in this guidance. If you need to you should get advice to make sure that your charity and those who fundraise for you know what rules to follow.  

The Code of Fundraising Practice outlines these other laws and the types of activities they apply to, such as: 

Fundraising other laws


The Panel is the fundraising self-regulatory body for Scotland. They deal with complaints about charity fundraising and promote standards for charity fundraising in Scotland.

The Institute of Fundraising is the professional body for UK fundraising whose aim is to promote the highest standard of fundraising practice.

The Fundraising Regulator holds the Code of Fundraising Practice for the UK.

SCVOis a membership organisation offering a range of support for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes across Scotland.

The ICO oversees the UK privacy and data protection laws.

TSIs offer a range of support and advice to voluntary organisations in all the local authority areas in Scotland.

The Charity Commission regulate charities registered in England and Wales.

The Charity Commission regulate charities registered in Northern Ireland.