Which structure is right for you?

The third sector in Scotland is a diverse landscape made up of a wide variety of organisations ranging from charities to voluntary groups, social enterprises to sports clubs.

The one thing they all have in common is their aim of bringing about change and providing services of benefit to communities and individuals.

If you feel that this sector is something you would like to be a part of, use this tool to help you think about some of the key decisions you will need to make.


Before you start

Meet the need

Before you do anything else you will need to be sure that you will be offering a service that meets an identified need.


  • Can you see a need in your own community?
  • Have you gathered evidence of that need?
  • Is your suggestion for meeting that need unique and new?



With over 45,000 third sector organisations in Scotland there is chance that another organisation might already be meeting your need.

  • Have you checked local organisations?
  • Have you spoken to similar organistaions who are meeting a similar need but in a different way? There may be ways of working together to meet the need as opposed to starting a new organisation.

With competition for funding being fierce and the distance people are able to travel to access services extending in line with advancements in technology, are you confident that there is an appetite for the services in your area?

  • Have you gathered evidence to demonstrate that the services you will be offering are wanted?


Build a support network

It isn’t possible to establish a third sector organisation without support from other committed individuals. You will need the support of others to form a committee for your organisation and the value of diverse skills and experiences on this start-up committee will be invaluable.


Vision, Mission, Values

The clearer you can be about the organisation’s aims the easier it will be to gain support as you develop and grow.

You may want to think about developing the following:

Vision: the way you would like the world to be if you managed to fully achieve your intended aims

Mission: what you intend to work on to help turn the vision into a reality

Values: shared beliefs about the way you should operate

You will have opportunities to revisit these as the organisation develops and grows.


Decide on a name

In Scotland, OSCR (The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) can refuse to register a charity if it considers that the name is:

  • the same as or too similar to another charity
  • likely to mislead the public as to the true nature of the organisation
  • likely to give the impression that the organisation is connected to Scottish or UK government or local authorities, when in fact it is not
  • offensive

It is a good idea to bear these bullet points in mind even if you don’t apply for charitable status.

Choose your structure by clicking on the above image