As already stated, in creating a new charity there are three very important features to consider.
1. What are the objectives of the charity?
2. What is the geographical sphere in which the charity will operate?
3. Who should be the trustees?
We dealt with the appointment of trustees in the last posting.
What are the objectives of the charity?
In the answer to this question lies the very essence for which the charity is being created. It is important to get this right as it is not easy to make changes at a later stage.
Sometimes I have read charitable instruments which have a long list of objectives. The reason seems wholly commendable; the visionary who is launching the charity wants to preserve the purity of his or her vision. However, in such precision lies a potential pitfall and significant problems for any successors. Almost inevitably, as society changes and the charity is successful and grows, there is the desire to widen the remit of the charitable activities. Close definition at the start can then limit the extent to which expansion is possible, much to the frustration of the current trustees. So my advice is to keep the objectives as wide and general as possible to allow subsequent generations to operate in new ways under the same legal instrument.
Further, the Charity Commission ask how the charity is going to achieve every single point of the objectives in the governing document– and so aspirational or out-dated objectives can be a complete ball and chain.
Also bear in mind the readership of the objectives. If you are creating a ‘social’ charity (I will address this in more detail later) beware how prominent you make the Christian aspect of the work. If, for instance, one of your objectives refers in some way to the spread of the gospel you may well limit your ability to raise funds from secular bodies. Assuming the primary purpose is to meet need with a high standard of excellence and uplift the poor in some way it is important that those objectives are dominant.
In CCK we had significant problems with fund raising at one stage because the ‘social charity’ under which we were operating had as one of its objectives the sharing of the Christian faith. While it is important not to hide that yours is a Christian ministry this knowledge can be included elsewhere using such wording as the ministry being carried out ‘according to Christian values…’.
A similar argument applies if you are required to specify the geographical scope of the charity. For instance, if a church defines its sphere of influence purely in terms of the local community, and then wishes to plant another church elsewhere in the same nation or overseas, there may be a problem in allocating funds to that purpose. But if wording is used such as ‘normally in (city) but also elsewhere as appropriate to fulfilling the objectives of the trust’ this leaves open the opportunity to minister more widely, if desired. As with all matters, however, legal advice should be sought.
Next time we shall consider the place of associated charities for particular purposes such as social action.