Charities that are connected with non-charitable organisations – outcome of consultation on guidance

The Charity Commission has published a summary of the responses to its consultation on its draft guidance on charities that are connected with non-charitable organisations: maintaining your charity’s separation and independence.

Feedback suggested that production of a single source of guidance on this issue would be useful. The Commission says that, in the light of the responses, it will decide which changes to content or design best address the consultation feedback, with an emphasis on the following common themes highlighted by respondents:

  • the tone – and some of the content – of the current draft puts too much emphasis on the risks of charities’ connections with non-charities – there should be more focus on the benefits;
  • the current draft guidance is too long for busy volunteer trustees – a more concise version, together with a further developed version of the useful ‘at-a-glance summary’ would work better;
  • where the draft summarises the Commission’s lead guidance on related topics such as Campaigning and Political activity guidance for charities (CC9) and Grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity, the paraphrasing produces a result that is not consistent with the lead guidance;
  • the draft guidance appears to introduce an expectation that the charity should be visibly separate from the non-charity, in branding and other terms – the basis of this is not clear and charities need more information about what they are expected to do in practice;
  • the practical parts of the guidance, whilst welcomed by many respondents, could (as currently drafted) have the effect of imposing a disproportionate regulatory burden on some charities;
  • the scope of the guidance needs to be clearer;
  • design and content could better recognise the different types of common structures and relationships covered by the guidance, and address them more directly; and
  • the guidance is, in parts, impractical to implement for charities with wholly owned trading subsidiary companies.

The Commission has said that it will run some further limited engagement to test is developing approach and aims to publish the final guidance later this year. If you would like to be involved in the further engagement, e-mail [email protected] with a reference to ‘Further engagement/charities connected with non-charitable organisations’.