THE country’s main anti-independence group is facing questions about its viability after admitting 98 per cent of its supporters don’t give it any money.

Scotland in Union, which has been hit by series of controversies in recent months, made the startling admission in a fundraising email that said: “We really need your help”.

Set up in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum to oppose a second vote, the cross-party group has previously boasted its has around 25,000 supporters.

But SIU has now revealed only around 500 of those make any kind of financial contribution.

Alastair Cameron, founder and executive director of SIU, repeatedly refused to answer questions when asked if his organisation was financially viable and had a future.

The SNP said the group was being forced to “put round the begging bowl to remain afloat”.

Adding to the impression of funding problems, the SIU email said the group needed more money simply to “keep campaigning” and “plan for the future”.

It said: “Scotland in Union is funded by supporters just like you and we really need your help.

“Anything you can contribute to our campaign would be greatly appreciated, and will allow us to build our movement to answer the divisive rhetoric from the nationalists and remind people of why it's great to be part of the UK.

“Currently, around 1 in 50 of our supporters donate to Scotland in Union.

“If everyone gave just £3 per month, we would be able to grow our campaign and plan for the future. Can you chip in?”

The email follows a reported drop-off in big donations to SIU, which has been dogged by accusations it is over-reliant on money from the landed rich.

SIU raised around £350,000 from a lavish dinner and auction in late 2016, with lots including stays in luxury African safari lodges and Alpine ski chalets.

A few months later, it hired former Labour MSP Graeme Pearson as its first chief executive

He admitted at the time he had “never heard” of the group and stood down in August.

He was replaced by former Labour MP Pamela Nash.

In December, SIU suffered a split, as a breakaway group of former staff setting up UK Unity, a rival Unionist group with a pro-Brexit stance.

Later that month, SIU suffered an embarrassing data leak, when a secret database of donors was sent to pro-independence websites.

It showed much of the organisation’s past income had come from millionaires, the aristocracy and landed gentry, leading to it being likened to “like Debrett's on speed-dial”.

The Electoral Commission announced it was “reviewing” SIU after it emerged many big donations in the database had not been declared to the watchdog.

Recent fundraising auctions in Edinburgh and London have been far more modest than the Prestonfield bonanza, and this year’s Burns Supper attracted barely 80 guests.

SNP MSP George Adam said: “Scotland in Union are a discredited Tory front who have hit the headlines in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. No wonder they are haemorrhaging support and having to put round the begging bowl to remain afloat.

“They’re fully reliant on bailouts from a handful of Tory toffs, who only have their landed interests at heart. Labour politicians should be embarrassed by this, yet they continue to play a central role in the organisation.

“As more people see the damage that the unionist parties are set to inflict upon Scotland through Brexit, the more people will realise the benefits of taking decisions for ourselves.”

Scotland in Union said its supporters were people who had registered online or signed up on the street.

It refused to answer questions on whether its current funding model was sustainable or whether it had a future beyond 2018.

A spokesperson said: “The failure of the SNP and its second-rate MSPs to persuade Scots to back their independence obsession clearly has them rattled and they have resorted to more desperate smears.

"We take the nationalists' current fascination with us as a sincere compliment.

“We are grateful for all of the support we receive, whether it be large or small donations, people who volunteer their time or simply share our messages and arguments online.

“We look forward to the day there is no longer any need for a campaign like Scotland in Union. While our schools, NHS and economy suffer because of the SNP Government’s fixation with independence, it’s clear we still have work to do.”