Setting up and Registering as a Charity
- Price: £3.60
- Published: May 2016
- Type: Business Information Factsheet
- Format: PDF
A charity is a non-profit organisation that is established for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes. An organisation cannot describe itself as a charity unless it is registered with a charity regulator (except where it has an annual income of less than £5,000). A registered charity must meet specific legal requirements and pass an inspection and review by the relevant regulator. The UK charity regulators are the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
Charity registration is governed by the Charities Act 2011 and the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 in England and Wales, by the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland, and by the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 and the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 in Northern Ireland (known together as the Regulations).
Registered charities can benefit from reduced business rates, tax reliefs, and certain types of grants and funding. However, charities are required to operate within specific regulations and restrictions, and setting up as a charity may not always be the best option for an organisation to take. Alternatives include setting up as a community interest company (CIC) or a community amateur sports club (CASC), both of which can benefit from similar reliefs under less restrictive regulations.
This factsheet explains how to register and manage a charity. It outlines how a charity should define its purpose and legal structure, and sets out the requirements for governance documents and the appointment of trustees.