Annual Review 2016-2017
It has been another interesting year for us here at the Scottish Charity Regulator. We have worked hard to oversee 24,000+ Scottish charities in a progressive, preventative and proportionate way.
We are happy with the progress made in implementing ‘targeted regulation’ during the year. This approach allows us to focus our efforts and energies on addressing and preventing issues most likely to have an impact on public trust and confidence in charities. Concrete changes have included alterations to our annual return, the introduction of a notifiable events regime and the publishing on our register of the annual reports and accounts of many charities.
A key objective for us is to help charity trustees understand and comply with their legal duties. Charities have had to deal with a number of challenges during this period – adapting to the digital landscape, bringing new blood into the sector and political changes to name just a few – but we hope that the introduction of easier-to-read and straightforward guidance has made compliance simpler. Our guidance ‘Being a Charity in Scotland’ was especially popular – it explains the basics of charity law in Scotland in a way that will hopefully lead to better governance across the charity sector.
A lot of work has gone into ensuring that registration and reporting have been straightforward and proportionate this year. Charities now have strong and accessible online annual return guidance, and we have received 1,150 applications for charitable status.
In 2016-17 we worked to improve the way we operate and deliver services in many areas. In addition to improving our guidance and resources, this year has seen us modify many of our forms to capture better, clearer information, and we are increasingly using social media and video content to reach a new audience.
All this helps the public have more confidence in charities. Going forward, we will keep encouraging charities to be more transparent and open about their activities, stressing the positive impact this can have on public confidence and the reputation for charities and the wider sector. We will also continue to make the information we collect about charities more accessible for the same reasons.
We gladly pay tribute to the excellence and commitment of OSCR staff. The Board said farewell to Kaliani Lyle and Sonia Johnston – each in their own way brought wisdom and experience to all our decisions, as well as making their own contribution to steering us towards a 21st century light touch regulator that promotes a flourishing charitable sector in Scotland. We welcomed new members Jessica Wade and Sophie Flemig who are already bringing their own distinctive contribution to our thinking.
As always, we want to recognise and thank the fantastic work of charity trustees and all the support bodies we work with. Their devotion to delivering good and effective charitable activities is the very foundation of inspiring public trust and confidence in charities.