The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has written to the first eight trusts to be identified through its Revitalising Trusts Project as appearing dormant or largely inactive over the past five years.
The Revitalising Trusts Project launched earlier this year, with the aim of ‘unlocking’ funds from underactive or dormant charitable trusts – also referred to as ‘sleepy trusts’ to support good causes across Scotland.
‘Sleepy trusts’ are identified as charities that have either had no income or expenditure over the last five years or have donated less than 30% of their total income over this time 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 same time period.
Since 2018, a similar scheme in England has revitalised over £50million of inactive funds. This money has been distributed to UKCF, local community foundations and other charities, funding community projects throughout the country.
OSCR’s letter advises the eight trusts that they are eligible for help from the Project and that they will be referred to Foundation Scotland, with whom OSCR is collaborating to provide the support.
More trusts will be contacted in due course. OSCR estimates that there are around 250 trusts on the Scottish Charity Register that meet the criteria for support from the Project, based upon accounts and returns made to OSCR over the past five years. They are being divided into smaller groups and looked at a batch at a time before deciding whether to contact them.
OSCR’s Head of Regulation and Improvement, Martin Tyson, explained:
“The aim of the Project is to find and reach out to charitable trusts that appear to be struggling to use their funds to provide public benefit. There could be many reasons for the inactivity of these trusts and all the while it continues valuable charitable assets remain ‘locked up’ instead of being used to support good causes. By teaming up with Foundation Scotland we can offer to work with trustees to identify the problem and explore the best solution.
“I would urge any trust that is contacted by us about the Project to view this not as a criticism but an opportunity to work with us constructively.”
OSCR’s Policy Manager, Steve Kent, explained:
“Short periods of inactivity are not uncommon for charities and the past 18 months has been an especially challenging time for all. But we are concerned where the lack of activity goes on for a long time and there is no obvious explanation. Trusts that have spent nothing or very little when compared to their income over a number of years may be experiencing difficulties that the trustees are unable to solve without help.”
OSCR has also updated the FAQs on its website, which provide more information about the Project.