Charity law is changing. Click here to find out how the changes will affect your charity.

Charities active in countering the impact of COVID-19

05 Jun 2020

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has today published the findings of research into the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s charities.

On 05 May 2020, OSCR emailed the principal contacts of all Scottish charities to ask for their help with completing a short survey. The survey asked questions on the impact to the charity of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the subsequent lockdown measures. The research was conducted until 15 May 2020, with 4,827 responses providing insights from a large number and representative cross section of registered Scottish charities.

The results told us that:

  • charities have been active in countering the impact of COVID-19 on their organisation, with 95% having taken some type of action
  • cancelling or postponing planned work or events was the single most common impact of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown upon charities, with 78% affected in this way
  • over half of the charities (51%) had lost income from fundraising. Two in five (42%) had lost income from other sources such as trading
  • nearly a third (29%) of charities had seen a decrease in the number of volunteers with which they engaged
  • one in five (20%) reported a critical threat to their financial viability in the next 12 months
  • one in five (20%) Scottish charities predicted that they would be unable to do the work they were set up to do at some point in the next 12 months.

The survey also asked respondents to submit recommendations to OSCR. The most common recommendation asked us to continue with the current level of support (17%). Besides that, charities asked for more general support on funding, more flexibility with deadlines/payments and for OSCR to inform them on government guidelines.

Read the findings of the COVID-19 impact on charities survey here.


These findings will be used to inform OSCR’s work, as well as to help local and national government, funders, public bodies and others in supporting the Scottish charity sector.

OSCR Chief Executive Maureen Mallon said,

‘It is clear that the pandemic has hit many charities hard. Nearly every charity in Scotland reported some form of negative impact from COVID-19 or the lockdown measures.

‘Charities have shown passion, skill and expertise in countering this impact as much as they can, but there is a significant proportion that still need support in a number of areas. While the lockdown measures are starting to be lifted, the very serious long-term impact on Scottish charities and the support they provide to beneficiaries is beginning to become clear.

‘Many are accessing the wide range of financial and other support and guidance being made available during this time. It will be vital to ensure that this continues to be offered in a thoughtful and targeted way.

‘As Scotland’s charity regulator we are in a privileged position to be able to speak directly to such a large number of charities. We are fully committed to sharing this information widely to support the best outcomes for Scottish charities and their beneficiaries.

‘I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the research. These findings will enable us to work with others, including the Scottish Government, on the best ways to support the sector during this time.’


Background information

  • The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is the independent registrar and regulator of Scotland’s 24,900 charities and publishes the Scottish Charity Register at
  • The survey was being conducted by Breaking Blue, an independent market research organisation and member of the Market Research Society.
  • The objectives of the research were to:
    • understand the impact that COVID-19 had had on charities at the time of the research
    • quantify what sources of support were being considered and used
    • explore the most effective ways in which OSCR and other third sector organisations can support the sector throughout this time.
  • Representatives of all charities on the Scottish Charity Register were invited to participate in the research, with the following few exclusions:
    • Individuals who were the contact for multiple charities were invited to participate only once
    • Charities for whom OSCR had no email address on record
  • If you have any media queries, please email Ian Grieve or Judith Pogorzelec at