Often those wanting to set up a charity or social enterprise know who they want to help, the issues they are looking to address, and how they will look to address them. What they are less certain of is how to go about forming and registering a charity or social enterprise from a legal point of view.
Things you need to think about when forming a charity or social enterprise include the legal and governance structure and who is best placed to be part of the team of trustees or directors.
The structure you choose will dictate the governing document required, which sets out how the organisation will be run and by whom. The document will also contain specific practical details, including: the objects and powers of the organisation, operational matters such as how board and member decisions are made, and what will happen if the organisation closes.
For proposed new charities, the annual income of the organisation and the choice of legal structure will determine whether you need to register with the Charity Commission. New charities which do need to register with the Charity Commission are required to complete, and submit to the Commission, a very detailed online application form, providing full information as to the proposed objectives and activities of the organisation, how these will provide public benefit, how the organisation will be funded and detailed information as to the first trustees.
Is charitable status right for your organisation?
Before setting up a charity it is important to have considered the alternatives. Depending on your objectives and proposed activities, it may be that a non-charitable social enterprise structure such as a Community Interest Company (CIC), or a community benefit society (CBS) may be more appropriate, each option providing differing degrees of flexibility and requirements for governance. Alternatively, you may find another organisation already exists, working with the beneficiaries you wish to help and fulfilling your aims – in this situation often collaboration rather than competition can have a greater impact.
How can we help?
We can assist with:
- Helping you decide what is the most appropriate legal structure for your charity or social enterprise
- Advising on eligibility for charity or CIC status where relevant
- Drafting the constitution or other governing document(s) including the charitable or social objectives
- Dealing with incorporation and registration formalities, for example at Companies House, the CIC Regulator or with the FCA
- For charities, preparing or advising on the charity registration application to the Charity Commission, and helping you address and queries raised by the Commission
- Helping existing non-charitable social enterprises such as CICs become charities
Why choose Tozers?
Our charity and social enterprise lawyers are specialists, focussed on this sector. We work with you to understand your needs and desired goals, helping deliver them efficiently.
Our team is led by James Evans, who is one of very few senior specialist lawyers based west of Bristol working exclusively with charities, social enterprises, education institutions and other ‘social purpose’ organisations.
We are one of very few law firms in the South West with genuine specialist charity land social enterprise law expertise in depth. Tozers is recognised as a leading firm for charity law expertise by the independent Legal 500 and Chambers legal directories.