Charity Registration Gets Harder

Registering as a charity or charitable incorporated organization takes a lot longer and with far greater scrutiny than before. So if you are planning this then prepare.

I have helped quite a few organizations register with the Charity Commission over the years using their paper application forms and then the web based version. Invariably once the form has been submitted the CC write to ask questions about aspects of the organization to ensure that they are charitable in the eyes of UK law. I would always say to organizations ‘don’t panic, this is normal’. And within a few weeks all would be explained and a charity number would be issued

Registering with the CC is attractive to organizations. A charity number shows legitimacy, a great many funders will not consider an application unless they are from registered charities, it confers benefits such as cheaper rates on premises and, with CIOs, limited liability. Lastly if your income is above £5,000 in any one year the law states you must register with the CC if your organization is charitable.

It is now not so easy. At this moment when the application is submitted there is a 6 month wait until a case officer is assigned unless you can persuade them that the case is urgent.

Next are the queries. There are more and they are more searching. Nothing is left to interpretation and you must be very clear in your first application and any subsequent answers. It is almost as if the case worker is obtuse and is quite able to misconstrue your answers. I am assuming they are not obtuse but have been instructed to allow only the most strict interpretation over any text they may read. This can be disheartening and rightly construed as a disincentive to register as it is a barrier.

Why is this happening? It could be a reaction (over-reaction) to the recent scandals with larger organizations over sexual harassment and so on. It could be a new CC director’s view on tightening up the sector, making it more professional. New bosses always feel they have to do something to mark their arrival. It could be the CC trying to justify their own existence and avoiding budget cuts.

Whatever the reason, be prepared. Ensure that everything you write is clear and open to only one conclusion. Treat the exercise as if you are trying to explain something to a small child with plain and easy links to what your aims and objectives are and how your activities support them.

If you need help then drop me a line or call.

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