At Work: Law and Governance - Regulation with Rosie

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on speeding up registration.

There's a rumour that registering as a charity demands a sizeable chunk of a founder's working life before we will finally hand over that registration number. But with about 5,000 new charities registered every year, it's really not that painful a process and there's a lot would-be charities can do to speed things up.

Our current target is 40 days for a fast-track application and 87 days for others. Current performance shows an actual average of seven days for fast-tracks and 51 days for others. The title fast-track doesn't mean we put favourites at the front of the queue - it happens when an organisation uses a standard governing document, usually where it's the branch of an existing charity, using their model documents.

We could, of course, hasten things ourselves by rejecting every application that's not immediately right. Instead, where we think the organisation is capable of being registered, but is not necessarily there yet, we get in touch with the organisers and suggest changes they can make in order to be wholly charitable.

Applicants can help themselves by making sure they answer all the questions in the application, provide us with a signed declaration, send us an executed governing document and provide Criminal Records Bureau disclosure notices when needed - our website holds more details.

The formal purpose of the organisation is usually set out in the 'objects clause' part of the governing document and should reflect what the charity intends to do. It also needs to be carefully written. We have a number of model objects on our website that might provide useful reference.

We're also planning additional ways to help. Look out for a new streamlined application form we're piloting before Christmas, and further major changes to come.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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