Guidance

What to send to the Charity Commission and how to get help

Find out what your charity must send to the Commission and what services to use to help you get things right.

Charity register details (for trustees of registered charities only)

Your charity’s entry on the register is public information. It must always be up-to-date – you can easily use the register of charities to check your charity’s entry. You and the other trustees are responsible for making sure your charity’s entry is up-to-date, even if you ask someone else to do it for you.

Your charity needs to let us know about changes to the:

  • details of the trustees
  • charity’s name or governing documents
  • charity’s contact details

Check who at your charity can make changes and make sure they know all the changes to tell us about and how to do this. They will need to use the security password we send to the registered contact. The registered contact can make an online request for a replacement password.

Annual return, report and accounts

You need to know if your charity must send these to the Commission and when they are due. Different charities face different requirements. Use our annual return guidance to find the detail and check if your charity is getting it right.

You and the other trustees can task someone else to provide us with the information, but all the trustees are responsible for making sure the right information is sent to us on time.

Dealing with serious problems and reporting them to us

If something goes wrong you and the other trustees should consider if the problem has caused (or could cause) significant harm or loss to your charity or the people it helps.

If so, ensure your charity reports it to us promptly as a serious incident, even if you ask someone to do this on your behalf. We use the report to check if you are taking the right action and if we need to follow it up with the charity. It also helps us spot trends which we can warn other charities about.

Find out more about what we mean by significant harm or loss and about reporting serious incidents.

Whether or not the problem needs to be reported to us you and the other trustees should:

  • act quickly to prevent further harm, loss or damage
  • plan what you want to say and who to communicate this to, such as staff, funders and donors
  • review the situation and learn how to stop it happening again
  • let the right people know, for example also contact the police if there’s been a suspected crime

Free help, information and services you can get from us (for all charities)

Help we provide

We provide a wide range of guidance. This is to help you understand your trustee role and how to get things right and avoid mistakes.

If you cannot find the information you need in our guidance or if you need help with what to send us or getting our permission, you can:

Information we will send you

We send:

  • a welcome pack to you when you become a trustee for the first time
  • regulatory alerts to your charity about risks that could affect it

You can also:

Know when your charity needs permission from the Charity Commission to do something

The most common things that a charity may need permission for are:

  • changing its governing document
  • paying a trustee or someone connected to them (not including expenses)
  • buying, selling or leasing land from or to anyone connected with the charity
  • spending money or selling land (without replacement) that the charity should keep forever (‘permanent endowment’)

All the trustees of your charity are responsible for getting the right permission. Use our online services and forms to:

  • find out if your charity needs a permission
  • apply for a permission
  • get guidance to help your charity get this right

Other sources of help to support trustees

As well as the services and help that we provide, there are many other organisations that can support you. Other regulators who provide advice include:

If you and the other trustees do not have the specialist knowledge needed to make a decision, get advice from a suitable source – for example, a solicitor, accountant or surveyor. You should make sure you get the right advice from the right place when you need it.

Further information about how the Charity Commission supports and regulates charities

The Commission’s support, information and services help trustees to succeed and to run their charities in line with the law. This is an important part of how we regulate charities. Where we identify that a charity is at risk, we are able to investigate and, if necessary, use our powers to protect it from harm. You can find more information about how we support and regulate charities.

We are committed to giving you the best service we can. But there may be a time you need to complain about a service we’ve provided. You can find more information on how to complain about a service.

Published 2 November 2020