Government guidance for charities facing the impact of Covid-19 has been updated with additional information provided by The Charity Commission about changing charitable objects and sources of support from other organisations.
The focus on a charity changing its objectives relates to the interest of a number of charities who are looking at what their role or engagement might be in supporting the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic. For some charities such activity may fall within their objectives for others it may not.
If your existing objects do not allow you to help, you may be able to amend your governing document to change them. But consider carefully:
- whether there are other charities that may be better placed to respond than yours. You can find contact details for relevant local charities on The Charity Commission’s register
- the wider and longer-term impacts of changing your charity’s objects including on your existing beneficiaries
- the timescale, appropriateness, financial demands and capacity to respond; whilst commendable to seek to support those affected, is it a distraction from the valuable work you do already?
- whether you should be focusing more on the current objectives of your own charity and the need to make sure you can respond to the impact of Covid-19 ensuring that you are best placed to meet the needs of the charity once the current situation is over
If you want to change your charitable objects, you should check to see whether your trustees have the powers to amend them, for example, using an express power in your governing document. If not, you may need permission from The Charity Commission. For example, if your organisation is a company or a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), a change to the objects is a ‘regulated amendment’ which would require The Charity Commission’s consent.
Any changes proposed should be reasonable, consistent with what your charity does and not undermine your existing objects. The Charity Commission will prioritise requests required urgently because of Covid-19.
For more detailed guidance on alterations to governing documents for unincorporated charities and charitable companies and governing document guidance for CIOs please use the links below:
For guidance to help with running your charity during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector