Check if a new charity is the best option

Before you start to set up a charity make sure that you know it is the best option for what you want to do.

Know who you will help and how you will help them

If your organisation benefits the community, it does not mean that you can automatically set up a charity.

This is because not everything that benefits the community is charitable.

You must have specific aims (known as ‘charitable purposes’) to set up a charity.

You can set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) instead. This is a company that helps the public but is not a charity.

Read the rules on setting up a CIC to see if it is a more suitable structure

Check if a charity is already doing what you want to do

Find out if any charities are already doing what you want to do.

Working together can be more effective than setting up a new charity. For example, so there are not two charities competing for resources.

Find a registered charity to see if you can work together.

You should also search the internet to find charities who are not registered with the Charity Commission.

Check charity restrictions

Check that being a charity will not stop you doing things you want to do.

For example:

Alternatives to setting up charity

Set up a social enterprise

A social enterprise is a business that has social, environmental or community-based objectives. The rules on ‘charitable purposes’ do not apply.

Set up a social enterprise

Set up a named fund or a trust instead of a charity

You can set up a named fund if you want to raise money for a certain cause.

This saves the time and effort of setting up and running a charity.

Set up a fund through a community foundation

If you have more than £10,000 to donate you could set up a Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) charitable trust.

Set up a CAF charitable trust

Published 12 September 2018
  1. Step 1 Check if setting up a charity is right for you

  2. and Check you're eligible

  3. Step 2 Find trustees

    Trustees are responsible for the operation of your charity. They must show they understand their legal requirements.

    1. Check who's eligible to be a trustee and what skills they need to have
    2. Find and appoint trustees
    3. Read about your trustees' legal responsibilities
  4. Step 3 Find out how to choose a charity structure

  5. and Choose a name for your charity

    There are rules on what words you can use in your name.

    1. Check what you can call your charity

    You cannot register a name that's the same as or similar to another charity.

    1. Check the names of registered charities
  6. and Decide and write your charity's purposes

    Your ‘purposes’ describe what your charity is set up to achieve.

    1. Find out how to write your charity's purposes
  7. Step 4 Create a governing document

    The governing document is a set of rules that explains how your charity is run. It needs to include your charity's structure, name and purposes.

    1. Find out how to write your governing document
  8. Step 5 Make sure you meet the 'public benefit requirement'

    Your organisation must be able to show that it benefits the public.

    1. Check how your organisation must benefit the public
  9. Step 6 Register your charity

    You must apply to register your charity with the Charity Commission if either:

    • its income will be at least £5,000 per year
    • it’s a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
    1. Register with the Charity Commission

    You can register your charity’s details with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to get tax back on things like Gift Aid donations.

    1. Register with HMRC