Registering as a Charity

The Excepting Regulations (or formally the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996) mean that most Baptist churches with income below £100,000 per annum are not required to register with the Charity Commission.  The Excepting Regulations are currently due to expire on 31 March 2021 and many of our churches have been concerned about having to go through the registration process, particularly as for many churches this will require adoption of a new constitution that would be acceptable to the Charity Commission (such as the Baptist Approved Governing Document).

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) intends to extend the Regulations by 10 years to give excepted charities time to prepare for registration and to allow the Charity Commission as much time as possible to register all excepted organisations in a co-ordinated way.  Extending the Regulations beyond 31 March 2021 requires Parliamentary approval, through Secondary Legislation, which DCMS will seek in early 2021. 

DCMS are working together with the Charity Commission on a plan to phase more organisations onto the register in a manageable way over the extension period, however, we do not yet have any further details of this.  As and when we know more we will update churches.

The Baptists Together Guideline Leaflet C06: Churches and Charity Registration explains which churches have to register and provides further guidance.

In the interim there are some steps that it would be wise for our Baptist churches to consider putting into place, to ensure a smoother registration process.

1. Adopt a suitable governing document 

If as a church you wish to retain your existing structure (i.e. a charitable unincorporated association) you will need to ensure you have in place a suitable governing document capable of registration with the Charity Commission. 

The Baptist Union has worked with the Charity Commission to agree a model constitution for Baptist churches which a church can adopt in readiness.  This constitution is called the ‘Approved Governing Document.’  A copy of the ‘Approved Governing Document’ can be viewed here

The Baptists Together Guideline leaflet (C05) explains ‘how to use the Approved Governing Document’ and explains the wording of many of the clauses. 

For further advice on adopting the ‘Approved Governing Document’ please email Justine Higgin at the Baptist Union.

2. Gather information

In due course it is likely that you will need to make a full application to the Charity Commission for registration and so you will need to gather relevant information.  It is advised that you retain records relating to:

activities of the church;

any payment of trustees (or anyone related to a trustee) – in particular trustees’ minutes where decisions to pay trustees have been made; and

the church’s safeguarding policy. 

The Baptist Union have created a guide to safeguarding policy, procedures and best practice which provides a model for churches.  This can be viewed here.

Our EMBA Safeguarding Advisers are also available to provide advice and support to our churches. For contact information and further details please click here.

3. Consider whether as a church you become a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)

An alternative option for your church is to restructure and move from being a charitable unincorporated association to a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).  A number of Baptist churches have already chosen this option since the CIO model provides the benefits of an incorporated structure and limited liability for charity trustees (provided they act reasonably and within the law).
A CIO can be registered at any point as there is no minimum income requirement.
For further information about becoming a CIO it is essential that advice is sought from Esther Campsall or telephone 0121 212 7431.


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