We have updated OSCR Online - click here for more information on how to submit your annual return

How can you improve your charity’s annual reports and accounts?

15 Mar 2023

As a regulator, part of our work is to monitor whether charities across Scotland are carrying out their duties properly. That’s why we require charities to maintain financial records, prepare annual accounts and submit them to OSCR on time.

To help us understand how well charities are carrying out this requirement, we recently undertook a review of the accounts submitted by 90 charities, which were selected at random from the 25,000 organisations on the Scottish Charity Register. This work has helped us to identify areas where improvement is required and where we may want to provide additional support for charities.

The full finding of this research can be found in our new report, Reviewing Charity Accounts: Random Sampling.

Our key findings

We found four main issues in the accounts we examined. These were:

  1. Failing to include a Trustees’ Annual Report completely, or providing inadequate information so this report does not meet the legal requirements.
  2. Failing to ensure that the accounts are subject to the appropriate external scrutiny and independent review of the financial information.
  3. Not providing comparative information as prior year information was missing, either completely or partially, in the accounts.
  4. Failing to provide the required notes to accompany the financial statements. Notes are important as they help to provide context and understanding by supplementing the information in the accounts.

You can read more details about our findings and these key issues in the report, Reviewing Charity Accounts: Random Sampling.

Why did we carry out this work?

One of our functions is to ‘encourage, facilitate and monitor compliance by charities’ according to Scottish charity law. This means that we encourage and help charities to comply with the law, and also must check that they do so.

To achieve this, we regularly carry out various compliance checks on charity accounts, from basic reviews to detailed examinations.

To ensure that we have a good picture of all charities across Scotland, we also carry out random sampling to supplement our other checks.

What are the next steps?

We have published this report to highlight these findings so that we can inform both the public and charities of the key issues that have emerged.

We want to support charities to learn more about these common problems, and understand how to deal with them, so that they can improve their own annual reports and accounts going forward.

Over the next few months we’ll be publishing more detailed information and tips on our blog to help charities address the four key issues that we’ve now identified. You can keep up to date with our advice by subscribing to our regular newsletter.

You can also find further helpful guidance on these issues on our website here: