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Publicising that you are a charity

Published: 04/04/2016
Updated: 04/04/2016


Making sure that people know you are a charity is one of the specific charity trustee duties set out in the 2005 Act. You must provide certain charity details in certain external documents (hard copy and electronic). What you need to tell people and how you need to do this are set out in specific Regulations (see Legal Note below). This section sums up what you need to do, and gives suggestions about how best to do it, such as adding the OSCR Registration logo to your documents.  

All charities registered in Scotland must publicise the fact that they are a charity. Charity trustees must make sure that certain charity details are on all of the charity’s external documents listed below.

These rules also apply to any third parties who publish documents on behalf of your charity, for example legal advisors, accountants, or organisations working on your behalf.

What do you need to tell people? Legal duty.png

You need display your charity’s details. This means:

It is good practice to state that the charity is regulated by OSCR.Good Practice.png

For example:
‘Monkstown After School Club (known as Monkey Club) is a Scottish Charity, SC098765, regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)’.

If you are a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), you need to tell people:

  • the SCIO's name as entered in the Scottish Charity Register
  • the SCIO's working name (if any)
  • the SCIO's Scottish Charity number (SC0[zero]xxxxx)
  • if the name does not include the terms 'Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation' or 'SCIO', the fact that it is a SCIO.

For example:
‘Monkstown After School Club (known as Monkey Club) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), Scottish Charity number: SC098765’. 

Which external documents need to have these details? Legal duty.png

You must put the charity’s details on:

  1. all your external letters and emails
  2. your website’s home page
  3. all your adverts, notices and official publications
  4. documents that ask for donations for your charity 
  5. bills your charity issues
  6. direct debit and standing order mandates
  7. all invoices and receipts
  8. annual accounts
  9. educational, promotional or campaign materials
  10. legal conveyance documents about land rights (buying, selling or transferring land)
  11. contracts.

In addition to above requirements, it is good practice to put charity details on:  

Good Practice.png

  • all your website pages
  • your charity’s social media accounts
  • campaigns or adverts that are online, on the radio or television
  • business cards
  • signs and displays.

Add the ‘charity registration’ logo to your website to help you show the public that you’re entered in the Scottish Charity Register.

It is important that the people you come into contact with, the public, funders, contractors and other organisations, know and can check that you are a genuine charity.

It also gives people confidence in supporting your charity and knowing that we regulate you.

When do you have to put your charity’s details on documents?  Legal duty.png

If you are a SCIO, you must have the details on your external documents as soon as possible after your charity is registered.  For all other charities, you must put the charity details on your external documents as soon as possible and no later than six months of becoming a charity.

The rules about having these details on the documents are set out in regulations (see Legal Note below).  All charity trustees have responsibility for making sure that their charity complies with these regulations. A breach of the regulations is a breach of your general duties and is misconduct.

If you are a SCIO it is an offence to issue or sign any of the external documents which do not include the charity’s details, or to authorise such actions.

Charities whose legal form is a company must comply with both company law and charity law. Charitable companies must include charity details set out above and the information required by company law, for example the company number.

Find out more about company law requirements at the Companies House website.

If you fail to comply with these duties then this is misconduct and we do have powers to take action against charity trustees, where appropriate. Our response will be proportionate depending on the situation.

Where a charity trustee has acted reasonably and honestly it is unlikely to be treated as misconduct.

Find out more about what we can and cannot do and what to expect if we have a concern about your charity.

For case studies and advice please see our Good Governance pages