The Clare Foundation is piloting a partnering scheme that allows small charitable organisations to use the foundation’s charitable status without having to register themselves.
The Buckinghamshire-based foundation was set up by the businessman Mike Clare, founder of the bed retailer Dreams, to help voluntary sector organisations become more efficient and effective. According to the Charity Commission website, its income for the year ending 31 December 2012 was £471,394, against spending of £790,838.
The scheme, the Fiscal Sponsorship Programme, allows organisations to become a partner of the foundation by signing a memorandum of understanding. This entitles them to use the foundation’s charity number on their promotional materials and access advice about the day-to-day running of their organisation in areas such as finance, fundraising and marketing.
Kerry Cook, charity services manager at the Clare Foundation, said that it hoped each organisation would spin off and apply for charitable status itself within three or four years, but if they applied now it would be too onerous and costly for them to meet all the requirements and regulations.
Individuals with new charitable ideas can also take part in the scheme, even if they have not yet formed an organisation.
EduHaitian, which helps children in Haiti access education, signed up to the programme in May.
Cook said that the idea stemmed from conversations she’d had with the two founders of EduHaitian – they set up the organisation in 2011 after volunteering in the Haitian capital city Port-Au-Prince in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Their fundraising initiative, which involves sponsoring Haitian children to go to school, was proving popular, said Cook, but they did not know what their next step should be.
"We looked at how we could assist small, charitable organisations and people with charitable ideas to achieve their aims," she said. "We explored the idea of acting as an umbrella, overseeing and mentoring these people with their charitable ideas.
"The Charity Commission is open and says this idea is far more effective for them, because it gives them oversight and governance of these organisations."
The foundation’s finance manager has helped EduHaitian to budget and meet all the requirements of charity law. Donations to the organisation now go through the foundation’s bank account.
"It is about mentoring them, without taking away the feelings and passion that drove them to establish their organisation," said Cook. "We nurture them to develop, but don’t take control."
Cook said another two organisations should be signed up by the end of the year and the foundation was keen to hear from any charitable organisations and individuals interested in taking part in the scheme.