Charity Commission policy on names

If your company isn’t a charity you need Charity Commission permission to use the words ‘charity’, ‘charity’s’, ‘charities’ or ‘charitable’ (known as sensitive words) in its name.

Applies to England and Wales

Commission policy on the use of sensitive words by non-charitable companies

The commission generally objects to any proposal to use the words ‘charity’, ‘charity’s’, ‘charities’ or ‘charitable’ (known as sensitive words) in the names of non-charitable companies or businesses.

The commission accepts that there may be exceptions to this general rule and our policy statement in OG330 Names of Charities section E13 outlines the circumstances when this may happen.

If having read our policy statement you think that exceptional reasons apply in the case of your company, you will need to request a ‘statement of non-objection’ from the commission using the form below.

To get our permission, you will need to demonstrate that the words:

  • are essential to describe what your business does

  • will only be used in a way which makes it clear your business is not a charity

In the form you will need to provide the following information and evidence in your request for a statement of non-objection, to assist us in making our decision:

1) Details about the purposes and operation of the company:

  • how it will operate in practice, including how the company will be marketed and

  • how it will identify and sign up clients, customers or charities

It may also be helpful to provide any marketing literature, a feasibility study or a business plan.

2) Details of how the public will not be misled in to thinking the company is a charity outside of stating this on any website.

3) Who will the work of the company be directed towards? How will you ensure that your clients/customers will only be charities or furthering charitable purposes?

4) What will be the benefit to the charitable sector through the work of the company? Please evidence this.

5) Full and specific details of any charges the company makes for its services and by whom they may be payable.

6) How you see the work of this proposed company differing from other organisations providing similar services and opportunities to charities that do not use one any of the sensitive words in their name?

7) Details of the costs/salaries and anticipated profits in running the company.

8) Details of how conflicts of interest might be managed, for example with any third party providers/other companies in the group etc.

9) Any other information you consider relevant to assist the commission in making its decision.

You should also read Companies House guidance on company names before you apply for permission to use the words ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ in a non-charitable company name.

For charitable companies using ‘charity’, ‘charity’s’, ‘charities’ or ‘charitable’ see our guidance in Using charity in a name.

Published 10 May 2013