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More than half of charities in Scotland have an income below £25k

Melanie May | 10 May 2024 | News

Two women (one in a wheelchair) sit at a table by a computer, talking. By Marcus Aurelius on Pexels

More than half (53%) of charities in Scotland have an income of less than £25,000, and for around a third (31%) it is below £5,000, according to the latest Sector Overview Report from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

The OSCR’s Sector Overview Report covers charities’ income, expenditure, purposes, beneficiaries, activities and operations over the period from January to March 2024. The data shows 25,045 charities on the register – slightly lower than in 2022. The vast majority of these are Scottish charities, with 1,246 being cross-border organisations.

According to the report, 743 Scottish charities were registered last year along with 57 cross-border charities. 2023 also saw 1,130 Scottish charities removed from the register, and 14 cross-border charities. This is significantly higher than in previous years due to the regulator’s ongoing work to remove inactive charities.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

Two-thirds run by volunteers

Looking at staffing, the data reveals that Scottish charities employ 218,334 people as paid staff, however, 69% are run entirely by volunteers, including the charity trustees, with no paid staff. In comparison, only 20% of cross-border charities reported having no paid staff. Across all Scottish charities, there are 181,258 charity trustees.

High support for children & young people

More than half of all those on the register (54%) say they aren’t established for a specific group of beneficiaries, or are for the benefit of the community, while just under half (45%) of charities support children or young people. The majority are focused locally, with 41% operating in a specific local point, community or neighbourhood and another 25% within a single local authority area.  

Most commonly, they carry out services or activities themselves (85%). A quarter (24%) make grants, donations or gifts to organisations, and 16% support individuals in this way.

Income & expenditure

The overall expenditure of Scottish charities on the register was £16.38bn in 2023, while annual gross income was £16.94bn.