Guidance

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 doesn’t mean that you can automatically set up a charity.

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

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

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

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 Community Interest Company (CIC)

A CIC is a company that is set up to benefit the community rather than shareholders.

The rules on setting up a CIC are not as strict as the rules on setting up a charity.

A CIC cannot also be a charity.

Set up a Community Interest Company

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

Some charities will let you set up a named fund if you want to raise money for a one-off event such as a disaster.

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

If you have more than £10,000 to donate you could set up a charitable trust.

Set up a charitable trust

Published 12 September 2018