What structures are suitable for small charities?

The Charity Commission regards any organisation with an annual income of under £5,000 to be a small charity, which should not normally apply for charity registration. However, since a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) cannot prove its income until it exists, the Charity Commission may accept an application for incorporation and registration from the founder members of a CIO, even if it cannot prove a £5,000 income.

Starting and running a registered charity involves time and resource, so the Charity Commission discourages applications if the administration burden outweighs the public benefit. However, a small organisation can still be charitable, refer to itself as being a charity (but not a registered charity) and can apply to HMRC for recognition. The HMRC number may be enough comfort for some supporters and Gift Aid claims.

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