“Charitable Purposes and Public Benefit”

Working with a charity recently, it’s still clear that many Trustees (and board), do not understand the Public Benefit requirements.  It’s a dry topic certainly, but an important one (as it is a legal requirement).  It’s also a good litmus test as to how your board and your Trustees are keeping on top of technical details about running the charity.

In essence, to exist as a charity, you “need to have only charitable purposes which must be for the public benefit”.  And whilst your board and trustees are operating the charity, then you must continue to make sure this is the case.  And finally, any annual reporting must confirm that the charity has conformed to the public benefit requirement.

If your annual report doesn’t include a public benefit statement, then make sure it does next time.  If you as a Trustee don’t understand it, then please make sure you do.

Where to learn about this…

It’s all on the Charity Commission website.
Simple summary here – read this first.

The complete – explains everything – guide is here.

It’s important to look at – the overview, the requirements, how to operate as a charity using public benefit requirements and how to report on it.
All of the wording is online, but many parts are also available as downloads (for example, an overview is here)

To do

  • Decide how much your board already knows about or complies with public benefit.
  • Take steps to brief or inform all your trustees – everyone needs to know
  • Ensure you actually do comply (as a charity and in how you operate)
  • Make sure you have a statement of compliance somewhere in your reporting (and that all the Trustees have agreed to it).

Need help?

If you need it, we (VANEL) can brief your board/trustees on Public Benefit, check over any statement you may have already written, and give basic guidance on what you should be doing.  Give us a 15 minute slot in your board meeting, or arrange a quick one-to-one with us.  £10 for the session for VANEL Members or Friends.  Contact Karl Elliott (karl@vanel.org.uk, 01472 231123).

Remember that the definitive advise comes from the Charity Commission.