Guidance

Get funding to start a charity

You can start to raise funds for your charity once you have your governing document and trustees in place.

Before you start to raise funds

You’ll need to prove your charity’s income each year will be over £5,000 if you want to register it with the Charity Commission, unless it is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) which must register whatever its income.

You can raise money even before you become a registered charity, so long as you make it clear that you are not yet registered. For example, you could raise money from the public by holding events or sponsored activities.

Read the commission’s guidance about fundraising legally and responsibly before you start.

Sources of funding

Apart from public collections and events, there are other sources of funding for charities, from working with public bodies to raising money from legacies.

Government funding

The commission does not fund charities. However, some charities are funded by central or local government. This funding can be given directly or through a funding body such as the Arts Council. Charities may also bid for contracts to provide public services (services that public authorities normally provide or commission themselves).

Read the commission’s guidance for charities that provide public services.

Grants from other charities and private organisations

Many organisations, such as the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund, provide funds or grants to charities. Search for grants using these links:

You can also use the commission’s charity search tool to look for charities which provide funding to other charities (choose the advanced search for more options).

Wills and legacies

Some people set up a charity after receiving an unexpected or substantial sum of money, and charities may receive donations in wills. Money from wills and legacies can count towards the £5,000 income you need to register a non-CIO charity.

Fundraising Regulator

If you intend to raise money from the public you may wish to consider registering with the Fundraising Regulator to demonstrate your commitment to good fundraising practice.

Gift Aid

Your charity can use Gift Aid to increase the value of donations from UK taxpayers. When people donate using Gift Aid, you can reclaim tax from HM Revenue and Customs. For every £1 donated, you can claim an extra 25 pence. Additionally, under the Gift Aid small donations scheme, some charities are eligible to claim a top-up payment on their small cash donations. HM Revenue and Customs advises on Gift Aid, the Gift Aid small donations scheme and other tax matters.

If your charity isn’t a CIO and your income is under £5,000 you don’t have to register with the commission. But you can apply to HM Revenue and Customs to recognise your organisation as charitable so that you can claim back tax on things like Gift Aid donations.

Published 23 May 2013
Last updated 20 July 2016 + show all updates
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