Applying to Become a Charity

There are many advantages in becoming a charity, but you will need to consider wether it is the best option for your organisation (see OSCR Leaflet on Becoming a Charity in Scotland).

An organisation can only become a charity if it meets the charity test, meaning it must have only charitable purposes as defined in charity law and it must provide public benefit.

OSCR’s Meeting the Charity Test full guidance and The Charity Test – a brief guide will provide further information on the charity test.

Once registered, charities must meet a number of legal responsibilities set out in charity law, including reporting to OSCR on an annual basis. Charities also have to comply with other relevant legislation, for example if you are a company with charitable status you must also comply with company law.

If you would like your organisation to become a charity, there are a number of things to consider before applying. These include:

  • Deciding what kind of organisation you would like to be, for example a company, trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) or an association.
  • Deciding who will run your charity.
  • Preparing a governing document, for example a Constitution, setting out your organisation’s purposes and how your charity will run.
  • Deciding what your charity’s name will be. OSCR cannot register a charity whose name is the same or too similar to an existing one, or is misleading or offensive. Please check the Scottish Charity Register before deciding on your charity’s name. More information on names and charity law is available in OSCR’s Changing Your Charity’s Name

More information on setting up a charity can be found on the OSCR website