About charities

What are charities?

Charities are organisations that benefit the public in a way the law agrees is charitable. Most charities with an annual income of over £5,000 have to register with the Charity Commission. Although charities with an income of £5,000 or less (and some others) don't have to register with us, they still need to abide by charity law and almost all are regulated by us.

For more information about charities in England and Wales, you can view the Register of Charities to find information about individual charities as well as sector information. Our policy on the provision of electronic copies of publicly available information explains the extent to which we make available electronic copies of the Register of Charities, or of the governing documents and accounts of charities.

You can also read our frequently asked questions about registered charities. We also publish reports, surveys and consultations which give detailed information on specific issues.

Who runs charities?

Charities are run by 'trustees' - the people who form the governing body or ‘board’ of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity. Most trustees are volunteers, and receive no payment (except out-of-pocket expenses).

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, our Trusteeship section explains what's involved and can help you find vacancies.

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