If you are looking to raise money for a good cause, you may want to register as an official charity. There are a number of benefits to this, such as reduced business rates, tax relief and access to additional funding. However, it is important to know how to set up a charity and whether or not it is appropriate.
If you establish a charity, you will be expected to follow the rules on charity work, as well as informing both the public and the Charity Commission about what you are doing. What you do as a charity must fall under charity laws, trustees should run it (while not benefiting personally) while being independent (you can work with other organisations but decisions must be made by the charity without outside interference).
If you are classified as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) or your income is more than £5000 you need to register as a charity. It is important to check whether your activities can be allowed as part of a charity- for example you won’t be able to campaign for a change in government. It may be more appropriate to work with an existing organisation, become a social enterprise (allowing for a mix of charitable and non-charitable activity) or apply to do a one-off fund.
If you decide to establish a charity, you need to settle on its official purpose. This will help to decide if you can apply to be a charity, as well as explaining what you are doing and who you are helping (for example, rehousing greyhounds).
You then need to decide on the structure- this will affect whether you will be able to employ paid staff, enter into commercial contracts or own property in the name of the charity- the four main types are CIO, charitable company limited by guarantee, unincorporated association or a trust.
Once you have decided on this, you then need to create a governing document, covering the name, purpose, the number of trustees and other relevant information as required.
Choosing the right trustees is important, as this will allow the charity to properly run. Ideally, you should choose people with appropriate specialities such as finance, marketing or legal expertise.
Funding needs to be properly accounted for. You need to have a bank account, regardless of size (many banks will have accounts appropriate for this purpose.) Remember- if the charity earns more than £5000 or is a CIO it must be registered.
We can help
At Larcomes, we realise that this can seem overwhelming at first. However, with the right advice we can help you establish a charity with the right structure that will be appropriate for your needs. Our motto has always been “big enough to specialise, small enough to care” – the idea being that it is not just about having the necessary resources, but also giving people a high level of customer service. For more information or discuss your ideas in more detail please contact us today.