Charity Formation & Governance

What is a charity?

A charity is an organisation formed for charitable purposes only and must be of benefit to the public. It will have a charitable purpose in an area such as poverty, education, religion, health or saving of lives, community development, art, science, culture, heritage, amateur sport, human rights, conflict resolution, environmental protection, animal welfare or the promotion of equality or diversity.

What legal documents are needed to start a charity?

The main document a charity needs to draw up upon formation is a governing document setting out the charity’s objectives and how it is to be administered. The charity must then decide whether it is to be a company or charitable incorporated organisation and file the necessary documents with the Charity Commission.

What is a charity constitution?

A charity constitution is a type of governing document. It should start by outlining the charity’s object, for example the need that exists and how the charity will aim to meet that need. It should specify those it intends to aid and the location it will work in. It should also address membership, voting and dissolution.

Who should sign a charity constitution?

A charity’s constitution document should be signed by three of its key personnel and trustees, the chairperson, treasurer and secretary.

What is charity governance?

A charity is usually governed by a board of trustees. Their job is to ensure the charity is meeting its objectives, that is has a long-term strategy, that policies and actions are being pushed through to further its objectives, that legal requirements are being met, that problems are dealt with quickly and well and that it is held accountable.

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