How to start a charity

Whether you’ve been fundraising for existing organisations or personal experience has motivated to start your own, setting up a charity can be overwhelming.

But there’s plenty of guidance out there. Here are the first steps to take…

  1. Write down your mission
    In the UK, your charity must have ‘charitable purposes for public benefit’, which can include things that contribute to health, education, relieving poverty, community development, amateur sport, animal welfare and more. What does your charity aim to achieve, create or do? Who are you for, and what do you provide? Write down the specifics of what you do, as well as measureable goals.
  2. Find trustees
    In the UK you must appoint at least three trustees. The people you appoint to the board can strongly influence the effectiveness of your charity. There are some legal restrictions on who can be a trustee. Guidance about what you must do during the recruitment, selection and induction of these trustees can be found at
  3. Name your charity
    Your charity’s name is important as it will communicate your cause and lots about who you are. It needs to be different from any existing charities, and can’t be misleading about what you do. Snappy names are often best, although you can use a long name and abbreviate it – as long as the acronym is not offensive.
  4. Choose a structure
    There are four common charity structures:
  • Charitable Company – Registered with Companies House. Limited by guarantees rather than shares. Trustees have limited or no liability for a charitable company’s debts or liabilities.
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) – Registered with the Charity Commission rather than Companies House. Trustees have limited or no liability for a CIO’s debts or liabilities.
  • Charitable Trust – A way for a group of trustees to manage assets such as money, investments, land or buildings.
  • Unincorporated Charitable Association – The simplest way for a group of volunteers to run a charity for a common purpose. Can’t employ staff or own premises.
  1. Create a ‘governing document’
    Outlining the rules that explain how your charity is run, this public document provides transparency for trustees and any other interested parties. You can find a template online, and will need to get it signed by trustees.
  2. Register as a charity
    You need to register if your annual income is over £5,000, if you are setting up a CIO or if your charity is based in England or Wales.
  3. Protect your charity
    Will you be arranging events? Will your charity sell goods to raise money? Will you be staffed by employees or volunteers? There are plenty of liabilities a charity may need to consider, including property, products, the public and your own people – but that doesn’t mean insurance needs to be expensive.

To speak to a charity insurance expert who understands the need for value, get in touch with [NAME OF BROKER] today.

More information can be found at