Sue Smith, a senior policy adviser at the regulator, says the information could be used to separate different types of charity
The Charity Commission will carry out a consultation on the information it should collect from charities.
Sue Smith, a senior policy adviser at the regulator, told the Charity Finance Group London members meeting yesterday that the consultation, which will be published in May, will ask whether the commission needs to collect "more, less or different" information in charities’ annual returns and summary information returns.
All charities with incomes of more than £10,000 must currently complete an annual return and file it with the commission. All charities with incomes of more than £1m must also complete a summary information return, which summarises information held in their accounts.
One idea is to collect information that can separate different types of charity, said Smith.
"For example, it’s difficult to separate out grant-making trusts from other charities," she said. "We aren’t changing our classification system, but we want to feed into that."
She said the annual return could also look at other distinguishing features of charities, such as whether they worked overseas, owned property, were members of an umbrella body or regulatory body such as the Fundraising Standards Board, or claimed Gift Aid.
"We’re also looking at whether we can offer more information through voluntary submission," she said. "It would be free text where you can explain the work you do on a day-to-day basis."
She said the summary information return could be kept, extended to charities with incomes of more than £5m or scrapped altogether.
Smith said that the commission was interested in hearing views on registration thresholds, in addition to those submitted to Lord Hodgson’s inquiry on the Charities Act 2006."There’s quite a strong feeling among smaller charities that a charity number is an important thing to have, and we need to see how we can help with that," she said.