Many parishes benefit from long established parochial charities, whose original purposes were to benefit the poor in the parish or the local church building.
Some of these charities go back for hundreds of years, the earliest parochial charity known to the Registry still to be operating in the Diocese of Norwich dating from 1509. In many cases these charities are operated by the incumbent (the Rector or Vicar) and churchwardens, often with Trustees nominated by the local parish council. The Trustees give their time freely to administer these charities and to serve their local communities, making modest grants to those in need.
Charities in England and Wales are regulated by the Charity Commission. They have a very helpful website which includes useful guidance notes on a variety of topics, including:
- Registering as a Charity (CC21b)
- Choosing and Preparing a Governing Document (CC22)
- Investment of Charitable Funds: Basic Principles (CC14)
- Acquiring Land (CC33)
- Disposing of Charity land (CC28)
- Finding New Trustees – What charities need to know (CC3O)
- Charities and Meetings (cc48)
If you need further advice on matters relating to a charity, please feel free to consult the Registrar.
Declaration of Trust for a new Charity
New charities must be established in accordance with the principles set out in the Charities Act 2011 (see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/25/contents/enacted), and must operate for the public benefit, and be established for charitable “objects” or purposes. A list of charitable objects is set out in section 3(1) of the Charities Act 2011.
A new charity may be either an unincorporated trust or a company limited by guarantee. The Charities Act envisages a third type of charitable entity called a ‘charitable incorporated organisation’, but these are not yet available for use.
For an unincorporated trust, the trustees of the proposed charity will need to enter into a trust deed, declaring that they hold the initial property of the charity (usually a nominal sum of money such as £100), together with other money and property to be received by the trust in future, upon trust for the charitable purposes set out in the deed. The trust deed will vary according to the purposes for which the charity is being set up, but a template, based on the Charity Commission’s model form, is available at Declaration of Trust – Model Form. Advice should be sought from your solicitor or accountant before a deed is completed, and as to the steps to be taken if the charity is to be registered. The Diocesan Registrar will be able to help with these issues.