; Charitable Status

Becoming a Charity in Scotland

A charity in Scotland is an organisation which is entered on the Scottish Charity Register. An organisation can only become a charity if it meets the 'charity test', meaning that it must show it has only charitable purposes and benefits the public.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) decides whether to grant an organisation charitable status and to enter it on the Register. OSCR then monitors the charity to check it complies with the law.

Becoming a charity can  bring many benefits to your group but it also carries with it a range of legal responsibilities. Only about 50% of Scotland's voluntary organisations are charities and if your youth group is thinking of becoming a charity, you need to consider both the benefits and the responsibilities. Some of the key points to consider are listed below:

 What are the benefits ?

  • Being a charity can bring public goodwill and trust
  • Some funders may only consider charities
  • Tax benefits - charities may register with Her Majesty's Revenue & Custom (HMRC) for Gift Aid and other tax relief, and may qualify for rates relief from local authorities

  Whar responsibilities do charities have ?

  • All charities must submit an annual return and accounts to OSCR every year
  • All accounts must be externally scrutinised by a person who is independent of the charity ( usually an Independent Examiner or an Auditor )
  • Charity trustees have legal responsibilities to act in certain ways and provide certain information to OSCR and the public
  • You must get OSCR's permission before making certain changes, such as changing the organisation's purposes or winding up

Next Steps

If your youth group decides that it wishes to become a charity, there are a number of steps it will have to take and a number of decisions it will have to take. These include:

Deciding what kind of organisation you wish to be such as an association, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation ( SCIO ) or a company.

Identifying who is goiing to take on therole of charity trustees

Ensuring that you have a constitution which is suitable for the legal status you have chosen

Agreeing a name for your charity 

For further information about becoming a charity, read  Becoming a Charity In Scotland, OCSR or visit the OSCR web-site.

How to apply

To apply to become registered as a charity in Scotland you need to :

  • Complete an application form 
  • Complete Trustee Declaration forms for each of your charity trustees
  • Provide a copy of your group's constitution
  • Provide a recent statement of accounts ( unless your group is not yet operational )
  • Provide a description of your group's activities in order to allow OSCR to decide if your group provides public benefit

 All forms listed above are available from OSCR and all completed applications should be sent to back to OSCR who will confirm receipt of your application within ten days. For further information and guidance on becoming a charity, visit the OSCR web-site or contact them directly.

You can also get further advice and information about becoming a charity from:

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations( SCVO )

Your Local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS)


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