step 1 - get startedstep 2 - make a planstep 3 - decide on membershipstep 4 - decide on charitable statusstep 5 - consider the risksstep 6 - decide on a structurestep 7 - write your constitutionstep 8 - next steps

Choose the right legal structure for your organisation, based on what you plan to do.

The type of legal structure which is right for your organisation will depend on the scale of your plans and the level of risk involved. For example, whether you intend to take on staff and run premises are important questions which are likely to influence your choice of structure. You can find out more about making a plan before deciding which structure is right for you.

The legal structure of your organisation is quite separate from its charitable status. Voluntary organisation can be either incorporated or unincorporated.

We’ve included information here on the most common legal structures for Scottish voluntary organisations, all of which can register as a charity:

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SCIO – Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation

The SCIO has been purpose built for the charity sector in Scotland and provides limited liability.

Voluntary or Unincorporated Association

The simplest and least bureaucratic form of legal structure, with low set up costs.

Company Limited by Guarantee

A clear legal entity separate from the people involved in it, but it must comply with UK Company Law.


Best suited to small groups of people who want to manage money or property.

Other structures

Includes information about: Community Interest Company (CIC), co-operative, industrial and provident society or friendly society.