FAQs charity registration and governance
Whether you're an experienced chair or a PTA newbie,
you're sure to have the odd query on charity registration and
governance. We put some of the most commonly asked PTA questions to
the Charity Commission - this is what they advise...
We're a registered charity but we are thinking of changing our
name from 'Friends' to 'PTA', does this affect our
No. Changing your name does not affect your charity
registration, but there are a few steps to follow. Firstly, you
need to check your governing document (the paperwork submitted to
us to register you as a charity) to make sure there isn't a
particular process to follow, e.g. it may stipulate that you must
consult members, in which case you are legally required to do
so before changing the name. The next step is to check that the new
name isn't already in use. You can do this by searching the online register of charities. If the name isn't
already being used, then simply submit an online form so we can
amend your details on the register. PTA+ NOTE:
Changing your name affects the definition of 'members'. Speak to
your insurance provider - if you are a PTA, then grandparents and
other supporters might not be covered.
We aren't currently a charity, should we become one?
It may seem odd, but this isn't really a choice that you have.
Whether you are a charity or not is something that is determined by
charity law. If your organisation has exclusively charitable
purposes and operates for the benefit of the public, then you are a
charity in law. It's likely that a PTA is considered a charity
whether it is on the register or not.
If your income exceeds £5,000 a year, you must register with us -
you can do this online. You can legitimately be a charity but not
be registered with us if your income is under £5,000. If your
income remains under £5,000, you may wish to register with HMRC to be
recognised as a charity for tax purposes.
After becoming a charity, are there any legal requirements that
we need to adhere to?
A charity must abide by charity law, which includes operating
exclusively for the charitable purposes it was set up to achieve,
and by the rules laid out in your governing document/constitution.
When it comes to running a charity in accordance with charity law,
the Charity Commission website has a range of
guides on matters such as good decision making and the rules on
financial reporting, including submitting annual information to the
Charity Commission. Your governing document may also set out
rules that relate directly to you, such as how often you should
Who are the trustees of our association?
The people who lead the charity and decide how it is run are the
trustees. They may be known by other titles, such as 'committee
members', but they have overall responsibility for running the
charity. We advise that a charity has a minimum of three trustees -
usually your 'officers', i.e. chair, treasurer, secretary - whose
details must be lodged with the Charity Commission. This
information should be kept up to date if the trustees change.
What legal responsibilities do trustees have?
Trustees are responsible for making sure that the charity is run
properly - there's a deal of discretion in how they do this, as
long as it does not break charity law. Your governing document will
also outline any specific rules of the charity, and trustees must
make sure they abide by these too. A handbook for trustees - The
Essential Trustee: What you need to know - can be accessed on the
Charity Commission website and will tell you
more about what is expected of trustees.
I have just taken over as treasurer, what accounting
requirements are there?
This will depend on your charity's annual income. If you raise
under £25,000 and are a registered charity, you only need to submit
an annual return - a summary of your income and expenditure. You
will be reminded to do this if your details are registered with us.
You can complete the form online. If you raise over £25,000 you
must submit full accounts
and an annual return every year. Whatever information you need to
submit, you are required by law to do so within 10 months of the
end of your financial year.
Our PTA is currently waiting for someone to take on the role of
chair, what do we do?
Trustees must continue to operate the charity in its best
interests. If you do still need to make decisions, you must make
sure that you have enough trustees to properly do this - we
recommend that you have three trustees as a minimum, but your
governing document may state something different, so check. It is
the responsibility of the remaining trustees to make sure the
charity is run properly. If those trustees make a reasonable
decision that the charity can continue to operate with a reduced
number of trustees (while the search for a new chair goes on), they
must demonstrate that they properly considered this decision and
that it is in the best interests of the charity. If you decide to
close the charity and your annual income has dropped below £5,000,
you can complete a form on our website to tell us the charity has
closed. If you want to close the charity even though it still
raises over £5,000 a year, you will need to contact the Charity Commission direct.
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