Things to think about before setting up a new charity

You’re thinking about setting up a new charity. That’s great! We are delighted that you want to play an active part in a charity. When your organisation has an income of £5,000 or more you are required by law to register with us.You will be required to submit evidence in the form of a bank statement or latest annual accounts with your application. It is not our policy to register charities that do not meet this minimum requirement. This doesn’t mean it can’t be a charity though.

Before you go ahead, there are a few things it might be helpful for you to think about.

Is a new charity the best way forward?

Depending upon your reason for wanting to set up a new charity and what you want to achieve, there may be other, and better, ways of achieving your aims. This section explains where setting up a new charity may not be the best way to proceed.

Are there existing charities with the same purposes and activities as yours?

There are around 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales, and perhaps as many again smaller unregistered ones. One or more of these may very well be doing the kind of charitable work your new charity would do, and in the same area. This section explains how to make sure you don't duplicate effort.

Understanding how a charity must operate

Before deciding to set up a new charity, it is important that you understand some basic requirements about how a charity must operate.

Fundraising

Fundraising is not a charitable aim in itself; it is simply an activity which can be undertaken to help achieve a charitable purpose. You can raise money, for example by undertaking sponsored events or holding sales of donated goods, for a particular charity. If you do this there is no need to register a charity, you can simply donate the money raised to the charity of your choice. You can find a charity by searching our online register.

More information about fundraising generally is in our publication Charities and Fundraising (CC20).

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