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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Funding is available from the Lotteries, Trusts and Foundations, and government, but competition is intense so it is important that you find funds which best fit your project and don’t chase funding as this will waste yours and the funder’s time.

Where to find funds:
  • Funding Scotland is a free online database of over 1,300 funds.
  • Read annual accounts and annual reports to see what types of organisations they have previously funded. These are published online by OSCR or the Charity Commission.
  • Keep an eye on similar organisations to yours and see who has supported them.
  • Successful fundraising needs to involve the whole organisation so ask your board, staff and volunteers about their contacts, skills and outside interests. This can help develop a list of people, businesses and other organisations that can be used to build support.

Types of funding:

Trusts and Foundations

Grants making trusts and foundations come in all shapes and sizes, founded for a variety of reasons, with different social and political perspectives, and with different grant making approaches. There are five main types of grant making trusts:

  • Individual/Family/Private Trusts – set up as a way for a wealthy individual or family to practice philanthropy. These trusts usually have a strong philosophy of giving based on the personal values, views and interests of the founder, e.g. The Robertson Trust.
  • Institutional Trusts – founded from an act of Parliament, Royal Charter or Livery Company. e.g. The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust.
  • Governmental Trusts – set up by the government, or with a grant from the government, e.g. The Voluntary Action Fund was set up with funding from the Scottish Government.
  • Corporate Trusts – established by companies transferring shares or capital to trustees to be used for charitable purposes, e.g. Bank of Scotland Foundation. These can be independent from the company itself or are controlled by the company with company personnel as the trustees.
  • Fundraising Trusts – these are trusts set up to raise funds and then distribute them to other charities, e.g. Comic Relief and BBC Children in Need.
  • Community trusts or foundations encourage philanthropy and strengthen the voluntary sectors in the countries, regions, and towns in which they operate. Foundation Scotland is Scotland’s only community foundation and busiest grant maker, making more awards to good causes than any other independent funder.

The National Lottery is the state franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom. A percentage of the proceeds are distributed to good causes through 12 distributors of money, which fund projects and activities that transform communities, protect our heritage, and enrich lives through arts, sports and culture. In Scotland these are  National Lottery Community FundCreative ScotlandNational Lottery Heritage Fundsportscotland and the British Film Institute.

There are several other lottery programmes in the UK. The Health Lottery includes 51 local society lotteries which raise money for local health causes managed through the independent charity The People’s Health Trust. The People’s Postcode Lottery provides grants distributed through a number of different trusts.


The main funding priorities of the Scottish Government reflect current policy objectives and are usually focused on national projects that benefit large numbers of people. Contact the Third Sector Unit for further information. (link to some Government funds? These will close so may not always be up to date)

Many quangos and non-departmental public bodies also give funding to charities and voluntary organisations. Examples include:

  • Creative Scotland distributes funding for the arts, screen and creative industries from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.
  • Historic Environment Scotland provides a number of grants and funding schemes to support bodies and individuals in the protection, education and promotion of the historic environment.
  • NatureScot provides funding to promote care for the natural heritage, wildlife, habitats, rocks and landscapes of Scotland.
  • Sportscotland provides funding for organisations involved in Scottish sport.
Last modified on 18 May 2023
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