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Revitalising trusts for public benefit

08 Feb 2021

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and Foundation Scotland have revealed they’re preparing to launch a brand new project which could unlock additional funding for charities and other community and voluntary groups across Scotland.

The Revitalising Trusts project aims to identify charitable trusts registered in Scotland that appear to be inactive and support them to reactivate by using funds that are lying dormant.  Charitable trusts typically provide public benefit by making grants or donations to other charities, voluntary groups or individuals. So-called ‘sleepy trusts’ are identified as charities that have either had no income or expenditure over the last 5 years or have donated less than 30% of their total income over the last 5 years to help good causes. The project will also look at charitable trusts that have failed to submit annual accounts and reports to OSCR within the last 5 years.

Whilst the full value of Scotland’s ‘sleepy trusts’ has yet to be established, a similar programme was launched by the Charity Commission in England in 2018 which has so far ‘revitalised’ £32 million. With support from local community foundations, this is now providing targeted and local support for the voluntary community sector thanks to the creation of new local funds.

There are over 3,400 charitable trusts on the Scottish Charity Register and OSCR’s initial findings have identified around 400 that may not be using their funds to full effect.

OSCR’s vision is for a trusted and respected Scottish charity sector which positively contributes to society. Chief Executive Maureen Mallon said “The public expects charities to use their funds to fulfil their charitable purposes and deliver public benefit, but sometimes charity trustees need a little help or encouragement to do so. If trusts are underperforming, we want to find out why and, through our partnership with Foundation Scotland, to offer assistance or a wake-up call where necessary.”

As the community foundation for Scotland, Foundation Scotland will be delivering this project in partnership with OSCR. The Foundation has the experience and expertise of building local funds which provide long-term benefit for communities.

Chief Executive for Foundation Scotland Giles Ruck said “This is an exciting opportunity to modernise many historic trusts, and revitalise others, and enable them to invest in our communities once again. We work with registered and unregistered voluntary and community groups all over Scotland. We will ensure revitalised funds can also provide support to the smaller, lesser-known community groups working on the frontline across Scotland’s communities”

The Revitalising Trusts project is expected to launch in April following the appointment of a Project Advisor to be employed or engaged by Foundation Scotland and reporting to a project Steering Group.

The role of the Advisor will be to identify inactive trusts and to advise and support their trustees on options for reactivation or reorganisation so that they can deliver public benefit once again. The Project Advisor role is currently open to applications. For full details visit Revitalising Trusts Vacancy page.


Notes for editors

For more information about the Revitalising Trusts Project please contact Steve Kent, Policy Manager, OSCR at

About Foundation Scotland

Foundation Scotland is a registered charity that manages and distributes charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, charitable trusts, companies and public bodies across Scotland to help communities take action, create positive change and deliver lasting impact. Over the past 25 years, the community foundation has distributed more than £100 million.

The Foundation’s developmental approach, partnerships with communities, and in-depth knowledge of the charitable and community sectors ensure that funds make a real difference to people’s lives.

For more information visit

About OSCR

OSCR is the independent registrar and regulator of Scotland’s £25,000+ charities. It is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government, accountable to the Scottish Parliament. OSCR seeks to encourage, facilitate and monitor compliance with charity law and has powers to investigate apparent misconduct in the administration of charities and to take action to protect charity assets where necessary.

For more information please visit