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How to make sure you include the right information about your charity on official documents

By law, charities have to give information about their status in various places. This is so that anyone working or doing business with the charity knows what sort of organisation they’re dealing with.

The rules you need to follow depend on the legal structure of your charity.

This guide sets out what information you need to give and where you need to put it. 

1

Registered charities

If your charity is registered with the Charity Commission and its income in its last financial year was over £10,000, you need to state that it’s a registered charity in the following places.

  • Any advertisements or fundraising documents asking for money (or any other property, such as unwanted clothes or used mobile phones) for the benefit of the charity. It makes no difference whether the request is explicit or implicit, or whether your charity is providing anything in return
  • Bills, invoices, receipts and letters of credit
  • Cheques and orders for money or goods that are signed on behalf of the charity
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, letters of credit and endorsements.

The law doesn’t require you to give your registered charity number. If you do, however, it will be easier for people to look you up on the register of charities.

2

Charitable companies

Displaying your registered name

If your charity is a company, you must display its registered name at:

  • the registered office
  • any other place you may have chosen to use for people to inspect your company’s records (known as a single alternative inspection location or 'SAIL')
  • any place where the charity operates, unless that place is primarily living accommodation.

You must also give your charity’s registered name on a range of documents, whether in paper, electronic or other form.

While you may never come across some of these documents, the full list is as follows.

  • All business letters and correspondence
  • Notices (such as notices of AGMs) and other official publications
  • Cheques
  • Receipts
  • Orders for goods or services that are signed by or on behalf of the charitable company
  • Various financial documents, including orders for money, bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements and letters of credit
  • Order forms, invoices and other demands for payment
  • Bills of parcels (the packing list that is usually enclosed with a parcel containing several items)
  • Applications for licences to carry on an activity, such as a music or alcohol licence
  • Websites, including pages of a website that relate to your charity (for example where a business has a page of its website devoted to a related charity).

Stating that you’re a charity

In English

Unless your charitable company has the word ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ in its name, you’ll need to state that it’s a charity in every place where you have to state its registered name, as well as in any documents for buying and selling land, including leases, transfers, mortgages or similar.

In Welsh

If your charitable company's name includes the word ‘elusen’ or ‘elusennol’ (Welsh for ‘charity’ and ‘charitable’) the requirement to state that it’s a charity doesn’t apply if the document in question is entirely in Welsh.

Other information to include

In addition to the registered name, you need to include the following information on your charity’s business letters (which means you should include it on your headed paper), order forms and websites.

  • Which part of the UK you’re registered in (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?)
  • Your registered
  • Company number
  • Your registered office address
  • Whether you’re a limited company (if – as is often the case with charitable companies – you don’t have the word ‘limited’ in your name)

You don’t need to list the trustees and directors of the charitable company on your headed paper, but if you name any of them (other than as part of the content of the document or the signature) then all of them must be listed. In other words, you mustn’t give an incomplete list.

3

Charitable incorporated organisations

Regardless of its level of income, if your charity is set up as a CIO you need to give the following information in all the same places as a charitable company.

  • The name of your charity
  • The fact that it is a CIO, if the name doesn’t include ‘charitable incorporated organisation’ or ‘CIO’ (or the Welsh equivalents ‘sefydliad elusennol corfforedig’ or ‘SEC’)
4

Scottish rules

If your charity is registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), there are other rules about what information you need to give. 

Information you need to include

  • Your OSCR registration number
  • The name that your charity is registered under
  • Any other name by which your charity is known
  • The fact that you’re a charity (unless your charity’s name includes the word ‘charity’)

Where you need to include this information

  • All business letters and emails
  • All notices and advertisements, and other official publications
  • Any document that solicits money or other goods for the charity
  • Financial documents
  • Educational or campaigning materials
  • Conveyancing documents
  • Contracts
  • Accounts that are prepared in order to comply with Scottish charity law.

The rules that apply to charities registered in Scotland do not say that this information only needs to be included in documents that you use in Scotland, so it makes sense to include it in all documents.

Further information

For additional information on making sure that your charity is compliant with legislation or to discuss your requirements with a charity lawyer, get in touch with IBB Solicitors on 01895 207862 or at charities@ibblaw.co.uk.

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Page last edited Mar 24, 2017 History

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