Outgoing Charity Commission chief warns of tougher regime for applications

As the regulator publishes three pieces of revised guidance on establishing charities, Sam Younger says the regulator cannot 'hand-hold' each applicant

Sam Younger
Sam Younger

The Charity Commission will take a tougher stance on incomplete or faulty applications for registration because it does not have the resources to "hand-hold each applicant" through the process, according to the outgoing chief executive.

Sam Younger, who will leave the commission at the end of June, said its new guidance on setting up charities should help people "decide whether setting up a new charity really is the best way".

His comments come a week after he used his final public speech in the role to say that in some areas of the sector there is too much duplication of charities, resulting in inefficiency and poor management.

The commission has today published three revised pieces of guidance – How to Set Up a Charity (CC21a), Charity Types: How to Choose a Structure (CC22a) and How To Write Your Governing Document (CC22b), all of which are available on its website.

It has also launched an updated online application form, which asks for more information than previously. A commission statement said that this should reduce post-application correspondence.

The commission said it hoped the new guidance would "encourage people to think carefully before setting up a charity; the guidance suggests alternatives to creating a new charity, such as volunteering for an existing charity, setting up a named donor fund with a community foundation or establishing a charitable trust with the Charities Aid Foundation".

The regulator said that the most common mistakes in applications included not providing sufficient evidence to allow the regulator to make its registration decision and poorly drafted charitable purposes.

In a statement, Younger said he hoped the new guidance would make aspiring charity founders more aware that "running a charity is a big step – it requires hard work, patience and commitment", and would also clarify "what is expected of them – and what they can expect from us".

"We will send applications that are faulty or incomplete back to the applicant, redirecting them to the guidance and asking them to make a fresh and complete application," he said. "We do not, sadly, have the resources to hand-hold each applicant through the registration process."

In the year to 31 March, the commission received 6,661 registration applications, with 5,371 coming onto the register in the same period, although 18 of those have since been removed.

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