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Revitalising Trusts project tracks down millions for public benefit

22 Mar 2023

The Revitalising Trusts project, run collaboratively by OSCR and Foundation Scotland, has unlocked over £2.3 million from lost or forgotten charitable accounts.

The project has identified nearly 300 dormant charitable trusts since it was launched in May 2021, and the funds from these trusts are now being made available for good causes across Scotland.

Charitable trusts typically provide public benefit by making grants or donations to other charities, voluntary groups or individuals as laid out in their original constitution. The aim of the Revitalising Trusts project is to identify charitable trusts that appear to be inactive and support them to reactivate. For a trust to be classed as inactive, they must have:

  • Not spent or received any money in the last five years; or
  • Donated less than 30% of their total income in the last five years.

There are different reasons why a trust can lie dormant. It can be difficult to recruit new trustees, to find time to run the charity, or, as times change, it can be impossible to identify beneficiaries befitting the original deeds of the trust.

As part of the project, there are two main ways trustees are being supported to reactivate these charitable trusts:

  • By releasing inactive funds so they can be redistributed to charities across Scotland who can use them to support present-day needs; or
  • By getting help to revitalise the charity, for example by changing the organisation’s charitable purpose to address new needs in local communities.

Even though many of these trusts are very small, collectively they hold a significant amount of money which is now beginning to make a huge difference to local communities.

The £2.3 million unlocked so far is just the tip of the iceberg, and the project hopes to continue supporting trustees to maximise their funds and reach for public good.

To find out more about the Revitalising Trusts project, please visit Foundation Scotland’s website or watch our presentation explaining more about the project from The Gathering 2022. You can also read FAQs and more information about the project on our website here.