Setting up and running charities

Explore how we can help your charity organisation with any legal requirements.

Contact our team

How do I start a charity? Do I need to register my charity? These are questions commonly asked. We suggest a face to face meeting in which we can discuss your activities, needs and the best structure for your organisation.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Formation and registration of a charity or social enterprise
  • Dealing with rejected applications to register
  • Appeals to the Charity Tribunal
  • Particular expertise in creating and advising community interest companies
  • Governance issues
  • Advice to new trustees on their duties, responsibilities and liabilities
  • Development of policies and procedures to protect trustees
  • Assisting trustees in their risk management
Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid

Partner | Charities, Independent schools

01483 464224

Structuring your charity

As with any business, when launching your charity or social enterprise, there are a number of legalities and governance issues you need to consider.

One of the first steps is to decide on the legal, financial and administrative frameworks that govern your charity or social enterprise. The structures you put in place today will affect your charity or social enterprise tomorrow, so it is important to understand them from the start.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Incorporation of a charity or social enterprise
  • Setting up a trading company
  • Entering into a joint venture
  • Subsidiary charities
  • Charities holding permanent endowment
  • Charities with federated or affiliated structures
  • Conversions from one type of charity to another
  • Advice on new charitable forms
  • Charities and social enterprises working in partnership

Managing your charitable work

Once your charity is up and running, there will inevitably be issues which arise both within the internal workings of the charity and associated with the charitable work itself.

Again, the structures that we can help you put in place will assist in minimising the risk of such management issues but the lifetime of a charity can be unpredictable.

Our areas of expertise include:

Internal relations

  • Advising charity trustees relating to compliance
  • Trustee disputes
  • Handling disciplinary and grievance procedures and dismissals
  • Handling and advising on employment tribunal cases
  • Drafting contracts of employment
  • Drafting policies and procedures for the internal workings of the charity
  • Remaining within your charitable objects

External relations

  • Public benefit – are you compliant?
  • Passing off – is a third party trading off your established reputation?
  • Disputes with other charities
  • Charity shops
  • Dealing with permanent endowments and restricted funds
  • Employment of third parties
  • Working with other charities; partnerships and affiliates
  • Restricting income for the right purposes
  • Changing your charity’s name
  • Drafting commercial agreements
  • Preparing terms and conditions
  • Assisting and dealing with review visits, regulatory reports and enquiries
  • Dealing with complaints – protection of a charity’s reputation
  • Acting as professional trustees for charitable trusts
  • Administration on behalf of charitable trusts
  • Supporting charities on a pro bono basis by conducting Will clinics
  • Advice to testators on leaving charities’ legacies and associated tax planning

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Discover how our expert charity lawyers can help you.

Intellectual property and branding

Branding is more important to charities than ever before. All charities have valuable brands and copyright works that should be reinforced and protected. We provide advice and assistance on brand management and the full range of intellectual property matters.

Our expertise covers trade mark, coat of arms, copyright and domain name dispute resolution. We also provide general advice on the rights a charity can claim and we provide licensing, merchandising, endorsement and sponsorship transaction support.

As businesses, charities enter into commercial agreements with suppliers and other parties. We draft and review contracts, terms and conditions and policies. These may embody specific arrangements with other parties or represent a charity’s standard terms of business or website use.

Our expertise includes:

  • Agreements relating to software, databases and information technology
  • Confidentiality
  • General advice on trade marks, copyright, design right and domain names
  • Licensing, merchandising, endorsement and sponsorship agreements
  • Passing off and defamation online including social media
  • Privacy and data protection advice taking account of the General Data Protection Regulation
  • Website terms and conditions and e-commerce

Growing your charity

We hope that increased income generation leads to growth and the spread of your charitable work. However, this does mean that you will need to review the structures that you put in place in the first instance or that have been in place for many years.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Updating and modernisation of historic constitutions
  • Changing your governance documents to allow growth
  • Updating your delegated authorities
  • Growing your workforce
  • Implementation of mergers, demergers, takeovers and joint ventures
  • Appointment of new trustees
  • Advice on tendering for contracts
  • Changing structures
  • Service level agreements, tenders and contracts

We are here to help

Discover how our expert charity lawyers can help you.

Explore our charities team brochure

Meet our charity team and explore more detail about the legal services we offer.


Fundraising & income generation

We advise on the legal issues and restrictions of developing income generation.

Legal issues that arise as a consequence of the fundraising side of a charity are often hidden as the objective of the fundraising team is income generation. For example, a photographer who you have employed to photograph a fundraising event may not have a contract or you may have failed to protect your charity logo when working with a fundraising partner. It is possible that such legal issues may be missed until it is too late.

We would love to meet your fundraising team! We like to work with charities to run training programmes and are happy to come in and discuss anything that may concern you.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Tendering for contracts – advice on contracts, tender documents, disputes, service level agreements
  • Trading companies
  • Agreements with professional fundraisers and corporate partners
  • Contracts with third parties
  • Protecting your brand
  • Database issues and data protection
  • Managing your reputation
  • Legacy disputes: “ Has a Will been disputed to which you are a beneficiary?”
  • Restricted income
  • Preparation of Wills
  • Interpretation of Will clauses and legacies to the charity

Employment & HR for charities

Every charity is committed to serving its objects and its beneficiaries. Employing a workforce is a substantial investment designed to further this purpose and is likely to be the charity’s greatest overhead. We are here to support you in ensuring this runs smoothly.

We provide a full range of support to charities of all sizes in relation to contracts, policies, procedures, redundancy/restructuring, grievance and capability/disciplinary matters and equal opportunities.

Our charities achieve their staffing goals assisted by our clear advice on the range of options open to them and our frank assessment of the accompanying risks. We take time to understand your aims and your ethos so we can tailor our advice to fit with your preferred approach to life.

Contact Moore Barlow

For more information and expert advice on any of the above aspects of setting up and running a charity, get in touch with the Moore Barlow team. We have offices in London, Guildford, Lymington, Richmond, Woking and Southampton.

We are here to help

Discover how our expert charity lawyers can help you.

Contact our charities team

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