A campaign has launched to fight the 'rain tax' - a new method of charging by water companies that could cost charities £100m a year.
The new system, which applies to all non-domestic customers, is based on the amount of rainwater that drains into sewers.
The Scout Association has estimated it will increase scout group costs by £1.5m, but churches are expected to bear the brunt of the impact.
David Boddy, churchwarden of North Thornaby in Teesside, set up a petition on the Number 10 website last year after the parish's bill from Northumbrian Water increased from £70 to £800 (Third Sector Online, 23 July 2008). It has attracted 40,300 signatures - more than any other petition on the website.
The Bishop of Middleton, the Rt Rev Mark Davies, launched the campaign, dontdrainus.org, on Thursday to add momentum to the battle against the ‘rain tax'.
"We would like the Government to introduce a special band for not-for-profit organisations in recognition of their good work and contribution to society or revert to the old rateable system," said a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, which is leading the campaign.
A Scout Association spokesman said: "It is unfair that a scout or youth group is charged in the same way as a supermarket."