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Revitalising trusts for public benefit

  • Date published: 08/02/21

We're working with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to launch a brand new project which could unlock additional funding for charities and other community and voluntary groups across Scotland.

OSCR logoThe 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, the Charity Commission launched a similar programme in England in 2018. 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.

“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.” 


Maureen Mallon, Chief Executive of OSCR

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 that positively contributes to society. 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 benefits for communities. 

“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” 


Giles Ruck, Chief Executive of Foundation Scotland

The Revitalising Trusts project is expected to launch in April 2021. For full details, visit our Revitalise a Trust page.