Publicising Charitable Status
This page provides charities with guidance and practical examples of how to correctly publicise their charitable status.
All charities entered in the Scottish Charity Register have a duty to promote the charity's registration. The information which appears in this page applies only to charities which are not SCIOs. If you are a SCIO please read our publication SCIOs: A Guide for further information on how to comply with your duty.
Our Guidance and Good Practice for Charity Trustees provides information and examples of how charities should refer to their charitable status. In summary, charities must state the following information on documents issued or signed on their behalf:
- the charity's name, as entered in the Register
- any other name by which the charity is commonly known
- the charity's Scottish Charity Number allocated to it at the time of registration (SC0[zero]xxxxx).
You could add the OSCR Registration logo to your documents.
A registered charity whose name does not contain the word "charity" or "charitable" must also state on their documents the fact that it is a charity. This can be done in a number of ways including referring to themselves as a:
- charitable body
- registered charity
- charity registered in Scotland.
Charities entered in the Scottish Charity Register which are established under the law of Scotland, or which are managed or controlled wholly or mainly from Scotland, are also permitted to use one of the following descriptions:
- Scottish charity
- registered Scottish charity.
Any organisation that describes itself as a charity by using one of these six terms or in any other way without being entered in the Scottish Charity Register – unless it is entitled to refer to itself as a charity in another country and meets certain requirements – will be considered to be misrepresenting itself as a charity. OSCR can issue a direction to such a body under it to stop it from representing itself as a charity.
How was this change brought about?
How Scottish charities refer to their charitable status is governed by:
- The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005
- The Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2007
- The Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2008
- Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2011.
Which documents are affected?
It is our view that the Regulations apply only to external documents and communications, including those issued by a third party. The documents include all:
- external business letters or emails
- printed advertisements, public notices or official published documents
- documents which request the donation of money or property to be used for the benefit of a charity
- promissory notes, endorsements and orders for money or goods
- bills issued
- invoices, receipts and letters of credit
- statements of account prepared in accordance with Regulations 8, 9 or 14 of the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006
- documents which are intended to educate the public about the charity and any promotional material aimed at raising the charity's profile or a topical issue
- legal conveyance documents concerned with land rights i.e. buying, selling or transferring
- documents which set out the terms of an agreement or a contract
- bills of exchange (not including cheques)
- the home page on a website operated by or on behalf of the charity.
Some charities produce documents in a language other than English. In these cases the Regulations permit the required information to be stated in that other language.
Correspondence between separate organisations which share a relationship – for example from a parent charity to any constituent or subsidiary body, or from a charitable subsidiary to its parent body – is not considered to be internal, and must comply with the requirements of the Regulations.
Any of the affected documents which are issued or signed on behalf of the charity by a third party must also comply with the Regulations. This includes documents issued or signed by an agent of the charity on its behalf, for example, a solicitor or an accountant.
Charities which are also companies are subject to the requirements of both company and charity law.
Charitable companies must refer to our guidance and The Companies (Registrar, Languages and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2006 when deciding what information to include in their documents. Find out more about these regulations and the information that must be included from the Companies House website.