The Charity Commission has said it will use the internet as its main means of operating and has warned that it cannot guarantee it will offer an alternative to those unable to access online services.
An equalities impact assessment, published by the commission yesterday, says the regulator "wishes to make the online route the principal means of doing business, and to move away from traditional alternatives".
It says this would not be a problem for most charities, but concedes that those organisations run by elderly trustees or based in rural areas with limited broadband access would struggle.
"For the small number of charities in this position, the commission may be able to offer by exception an alternative to online transactions, but we cannot at this stage give absolute assurances," the assessment says.
"We are a small organisation that will need to reduce our headcount by 33 per cent as a result of public sector budget reductions. The reality is that we may not be able to afford to offer any non-online alternative except in exceptional circumstances where all other online completion opportunities have been exhausted.
"We need to be open about this with our service users in order that we do not raise unrealistic expectations."