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Registering your new charity: getting it right first time

25 July 2022

Only 52% of applications to register a new charity were successful in 2021-22. We share our hints and tips to maximise your chances.

The Charity Commission’s recent Annual Report stated that it received 8,005 applications to register a new charity during 2021-22.  Just over half of these were successful (52%).  You may be surprised how low this is, given the time and effort which goes into completing the application form.

As specialist charity lawyers, registering new charities is our bread and butter.  As you might expect (and hope!), our success rate with new registrations is considerably higher than 52% - we estimate it must be at least 95%. 

However, we understand the financial pressures which many organisations are facing in the current climate, and spending money on legal advice may not be your top priority.  We have therefore compiled our top tips if you are going through the charity registration process, to maximise your chances of success.

  • Charities with a connection to another organisation: If your charity is being set up by, or is connected to, another organisation (particularly a non-charitable organisation), the Charity Commission will want to understand the nature of the connection, how the relationship will be managed and how any conflicts of interest will be dealt with.  The Charity Commission’s guidance on charities and non-charities is worth reading, to help you give the necessary level of detail in the application form. 
  • Framing your charitable purposes: You should ensure that your charity’s purposes fall within the 13 descriptions of charitable purposes, which are set out in law.  You can see the Charity Commission’s guidance on this here.  
  • Looking again at your charitable purposes: You should be aware that some particular charitable purposes have specific meanings in charity law.  The guidance on charitable purposes includes links to further information about particular charitable purposes.  We strongly recommend you read this additional guidance, to confirm your proposed activities fall within the scope of a particular charitable purpose. For example, regeneration is a charitable purpose which often raises questions.  
  • Demonstrating how you will further those purposes: For each charitable purpose listed in your governing document you should provide clear evidence of the activities you will be doing to further those purposes.  In our experience, sufficient detail on this is often missing from application forms.  
  • Explaining your public benefit: You should explain clearly how your charity will be acting for the public benefit.  The Charity Commission’s guidance on this can be found here.  
  • Trading activities: It is important to demonstrate that you understand the rules about charities and trading, to ensure you keep within charity law, by explaining your trading activities in sufficient detail in the registration application form.  Charity Commission Guidance CC35 is a good starting point.
  • Working overseas: If you are working overseas, you should ensure that your charity will comply with the Charity Commission’s guidance on working internationally.  On your application form, you should ensure that you explain clearly how funds will be transferred overseas, how any partnership arrangements will work and how the trustees of a charity will ensure that its funds have been spent properly.  You can find guidance on this here
  • Supporting documents: you must make sure you attach the trustee declaration (all charities), proof of income (all charities except CIOs) and any other supporting documents requested by the Charity Commission.  Failure to do this can mean that the Charity Commission will reject your application outright. 

It goes without saying that if we can help with your charity registration application, please get in touch with any member of our charities team.  Involving us at this early stage might just make the difference.

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Laura Moss, Nat Johnson, Joanna Blackman or any of the Charities and Social Economy team on 0113 243 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys Charities team on Twitter.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors. 

Laura Moss View Biography

Laura Moss

Partner
Leeds

Nat Johnson View Biography

Nat Johnson

Partner
Leeds

Joanna Blackman View Biography

Joanna Blackman

Solicitor
Leeds

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