What we think

Registering your charity – ten lessons learnt

16th November 2015 Posted by: Rachael

So you want to register a charity?  Perhaps you’re setting up a brand new organisation to achieve change in your community. Perhaps its time for your existing community group to take the step to become a formal charity. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve helped organisations through this process.

Registering a charity wordle

Before you start…

  1. Registering your charity is not the first step in the process. First you need to decide on the type of organisation that you want to be, appoint your trustees and write your governing document. The Charity Commission website helps you with governance as well as the process of registering.  There are different rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland which you will find here.
  2. Using one of the Charity Commission’s model governance documents is a good idea. For starters, they help you think through all the things you need to decide. Secondly, the Charity Commission are used to working with them, making questions less likely. Watch out for the objects clause . You’ll need to use specific Commission language here, and again when you register your charity. Choose from a prescribed thirteen set forms of words. Remember these words limit what you can do, so go broad.
  3. When thinking about your board, it’s simpler to register if your board only has non executive members (i.e. staff members don’t sit on the board). The Charity Commission is concerned that board members do not benefit from your work. If you want staff on your board you’ll need to manage any potential issues of personal benefit.
  4. Open a bank account (if you don’t already have one). This can feel circular – the Charity Commission wants your bank account details for you to register, the bank wants your charity registration number. Talk to your bank – they are used to this, and can help with accounts specifically for community groups to get you going.Well done! You’ve decided on your form of organisation, written your governing document, appointed your trustees and opened a bank account. It’s time to begin on the charity registration process.
  5. The Purposes section of the registration form is where you repeat the objects in your governing document – using those standard thirteen set forms of words – remember those?
  6. Now you’re ready to tackle the rest of the “Purpose and public benefit” section and the “Operating and public benefit”. Describe what your charity does and include a link to your website if you have one. Help the Charity Commission understand what you do, who you work with and how you will achieve your objectives. Add examples to bring this to life.
  7. The “where you work” section is simple unless you work globally. If you are working to deliver benefits that will help people around the world then settle down – you’ll need to add every single country in the world one by one.
  8. Watch out for the trustee declaration form. You’re going to need all of your trustees to sign the same document confirming their identities. It’s worth printing off the form and sending it round to your trustees well before you are ready to hit submit.
  9. Don’t take a break, go and get yourself a cup of tea and carry on without logging back in. You’ll find you’ll have been timed out and your work lost. This one was hard learned…
  10. So now you submit and sit back?  Maybe, but not all registrations go through first time. Be prepared for questions, and respond with good detail and examples and in good time.  The process can take between 4 and 8 weeks.

So, 10 steps and you’re on your way.  Good luck!

Kate Wareing

Don’t Ask ‘Why?’ – Creating Behaviour Change

7th December 2014 Posted by: Rachael

Beliefs have a powerful influence on our capability as individuals and also as organisations.  Beliefs can be empowering, enabling us to achieve our potential.  But beliefs can also be limiting, based on generalisations from our own experience.  For example, ‘That campaign won’t work, we tried it before’, or ‘Our organisation is too big to respond quickly’.   Listen to yourself or others in your organisation and you will hear such limiting beliefs often.

questions questions

As researchers, we are often asking ourselves ‘WHY’?  Why do employees, consumers, policy makers, behave as they do?  We want to understand what drives behaviours in order to make positive behaviour change.  It is good to keep searching for truth.  But when it comes to actually changing behaviours, ‘why’ is not the question to ask.  We have been looking to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help create the change we want to see.

NLP challenges the very beliefs that are limiting people in their life and work.  Asking questions about the belief itself, NLP begins to shake the limiting belief.  For example, ‘In what way is this campaign different from before?’, or ‘When has the organisation responded quickly?’, ‘Never, really?’  For an organisation or individual to move forward, they need to form beliefs that will empower them to achieve the change they need, supported with all the evidence they can muster.  NLP is a great resource to support behaviour change.  If you want to dig deeper, we strongly recommend  David Molden and Pat Hutchinson, with their book Brilliant NLP.

So, whether it is in personal or organisational development, do keep asking yourself ‘why’, ‘what’s behind this’ and ‘what’s holding people back?’.  But, when you are ready to create the change, look to the beliefs and how to empower people.


A little bit of love and understanding

7th December 2014 Posted by: Rachael

We have been musing: are charities really in the right space when it comes to communicating with donors, particularly major donors? New Philanthropy Capital’s excellent report, Money for Good, explores what motivates donors to give to charity. You could be forgiven for thinking that major donors are all primarily driven by responding to ‘needs’ and that if only charities were to share that need: the stories of beneficiaries and their work, that our prospective friends would respond. But take a look at this report, and others like it, and they tell quite a different story …


The truth is philanthropists are often persuaded by causes to which they have a personal connection or some link in terms of their own personal experience. What’s needed is less information and more understanding. Don’t just tell, ask; don’t speak, listen…

Philanthropy differs from mainstream giving, in that major donors are much more likely to say they define themselves through the act of giving. It makes sense that appealing to their own personal concerns and values will have more cut-through than simply emphasising there’s a problem to fix.

If you’re a reader, dip into Beth Breeze and Theresa Lloyd’s fascinating book, Richer Lives, Why Rich People Give. Take a look at a few of the great verbatims, and you’ll be wholly convinced of the need for greater love and understanding:

“You can only persuade people to give by appealing to an interest or a passion … the case for support has to be personal and powerful’ HNW donor

Although times are changing, charities largely operate a broadcast model, telling major donors what they’re doing, their aims and objectives.   This can lead to a breakdown in understanding, with the charity thinking “if only we tell them, give them more information…they’ll understand” and then the philanthropist’s response, “you really don’t understand ME!”

So comes the case for a little bit of love and understanding. Let’s think about major donors as individuals with their own preferences, experiences and passions. Profile them to get up close and personal: to understand not just what they do, but how they feel about things and why? Remember it’s less about you, and more about them … always!

Jane Thurlow