Lawrence Stephens

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Setting Up A Charity: What You Need to Know

April 2021

Many people are unaware that you can set up your own charity if you have a charitable cause. Setting up a charity is more straight-forward than you might think, and it will enable you to ensure that your money is used for your preferred cause, however you do need a lawyer to help you make the arrangements. Once set up you can also leave assets to the charity from your Will.

Why set up a charity?

There are many reasons why individuals may choose to set up a charity. It could be to preserve the memory of a loved one, or to support a specific cause that you feel passionate about. In order to be established as a legal charity, the government has mandated that your organisation must have a name, an adequate structure, trustees, a governing document, an official registration if your income is over £5,000 per year, and ‘charitable purposes for the public benefit’.

What type of charity should I choose?

There are several types of charities with differing operational functions, so it is very important to understand how they vary, and to choose the right one for you. The four main types of charity are:

» Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
» Charitable Company
» Unincorporated Association
» Trust

Further information on each type of charity and how they function can be found in the government’s Charity Types guidance.

Can I convert an existing charity?

You can convert or restructure an existing charity or corporate body into a new charity that best suits your purposes. If you own a corporate body or several charitable organisations, you have the option of converting or amalgamating them into a new CIO. A lawyer will be able to advise you on this process.

If you would like to find out more about setting up a charity, or leaving assets to a charity in your Will, please feel free to get in touch with our Private Wealth & Succession Planning specialist Hardeep Nijher on