Four Steps to setting up a charity
The urgency of setting up a charity depends entirely on the context you are in - if you are a Bishop's Mission Order crossing parish boundaries, then it is more urgent than if you are a parish church. Whatever the context however, it is worth pursuing as once you are a registered charity you can get special relief on rates and VAT and the process helps you to organise yourselves and ensure you are governed properly. Also when it comes to fundraising you need to be a registered charity in order to apply to various trusts and grant giving bodies.
BUT... just to warn you, it can take some time. This is because you need to have done various things in place before you can get registered and then you wait and the Charities Commission aims to give an answer to your charity registration in 40 days.
So without further ado, here are my:
FOur steps to setting up a charity
step 1: choose trustees
Trustees are the people who are responsible for the general control and management of the administration of the charity. Trustees sit on the PCC/Finance Committee and help you make the big decisions of the church. The best trustees are very encouraging, trustworthy and challenge you to get better in all areas. You probably want them to be a lot wiser than you!
Just choose people on your team and ask them - go for it, you've probably got them in mind. You can tell them how much commitment it will involve such as 2 hour meeting every quarter, plus some reading.
You can have as many as you want but best to keep it between 4-12 people in order to keep the meetings efficient.
step two: choose charity type
There are a few different types of charities and you need to choose which type best suits your needs. Get advice from the Diocesan secretary and their legal team as well as the Church Planting Network you are from.
step three: create governing document
Templates and instructions found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-write-your-charitys-governing-document. Church plants can be complicated set ups as their structures cross over with the governance structures of the Church of England so definitely check the draft with the Diocesan secretary and their legal team. In fact some diocese will have someone on their team write the document for you.
step four: register with the charities commission
Send off your application and governing document and you can expect to hear within 40 days. They may come back with points to clarify.
It is worth setting up as a charity as soon as possible in some contexts. If you are not automatically a legal entity you cannot set up a bank account and you cannot apply to many trust funds without a charity number or a bank account. If the situation is complicated then seek advice from your Diocese and your planting church to work out the best set up.
helpful links and further reading:
Know How Non Profit website - amazing resource!!