Third sector


There are currently more than 24,000 charities in Scotland, ranging from small local charities to large international organisations.

Charities in Scotland are regulated and awarded charitable status by the independent Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). 

OSCR is a non-ministerial department, overseen by a strategic board of up to eight non-executives, appointed by Scottish Ministers. OSCR Is accountable directly to the Scottish Parliament rather than to Scottish Ministers. 

We are responsible for the legal framework within which charities and the OSCR must operate, as set out in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

We value the role that charities play in Scotland and are committed to supporting and encouraging charitable activity, while ensuring that public money is used responsibly.

Find out more on the OSCR website.

Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund distributes funding raised through the National Lottery to charitable organisations across the UK.

It distributes £70 million to around 2,000 groups and organisations in Scotland every year.

Since 2006, more than 27,000 projects and activities in Scotland have received Big Lottery funding worth more than £900 million, with 90% of this going to the third sector.

In addition to lottery-funded programmes, the Big Lottery Fund also delivers the following funding programmes on our behalf:

  • Young Start – funds projects that create opportunities for children and young people aged between eight and 24 to help realise their potential
  • Scottish Land Fund – supports community acquisition of land and land assets, in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Coastal communities – supports the economic development of coastal communities across the UK
  • Social inclusion and poverty reduction – the Big Lottery Fund is contributing £10 million to this Strategic Intervention of the European Social Fund (ESF), which will be matched by a further £7.3 million from the ESF
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