What you need to do if your charity is changing

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Is your charity going through a period of change? Make sure that everything is up-to-date and in order with these essential guidelines…

It can be an incredibly exciting time when things have been going well at your charity and you can start to think about expanding, bringing in more staff or introducing new events and activities. But a crucial part of these growth plans is making sure that you have the right skills, processes and insurance in place to cope with these changes, so that your organisation is fully covered and able to develop in a way that’s both realistic and sustainable.

So if your charity is experiencing a growth period, it’s important to be aware of the wider not-for-profit environment and the future challenges you’re likely to face.

Check the basics

Your ability to change your charity will depend on its structure and governing document. There are four types of charity structure – charitable incorporated organisation (CIO); charitable company; unincorporated association; and trust – which determine factors such as whether or not you can employ staff. Changing your charity’s structure can be complicated, but there are more details on the government’s website. Trustees should also check their governing document – it’s likely that it’ll need amending to reflect the new changes.

Staff and volunteers

To begin with, many charities are run only by the trustees; but over time you’ll probably need to take on additional staff and/or volunteers. During the recruitment process it’s important to communicate your expansion plans and explain to candidates what will be expected of them in their roles, choosing individuals who fit into your wider goals and beliefs.

Partnerships

It can be a good idea to pool together resources and talent from another organisation whose work is relevant to your charity. This collaborative approach can benefit both parties and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the growing demands and responsibilities facing your charity. If a partnership doesn’t sound appealing, consider getting in touch with a larger organisation to see if they’ll mentor you on what to expect and prepare for during the expansion process.

Finance

As your organisation develops, you’ll need to keep a tighter grip on your finances and ensure that every penny is accounted for. Handling budgets, controlling transactions and balancing the books carefully are all key to successful expansion; so if money isn’t your forte, make sure you employ a skilled accountant or financial expert to keep an eye on this side of the business.

Income changes

It’s worth noting that when your charity starts to earn more than £5,000 per year, you’ll have to register it with the Charity Commission. Visit their website for more information on how to do this, as well as the various reporting and accounting methods you may have to conduct, according to your size.

Insurance

No matter what type of charity you operate, there are various not-for-profit insurance products that offer a range of cover options. This ranges from compulsory cover – such as Employers’ Liability and Motor insurance – to additional options such as Public Liability, Material Damage and ‘All Risks’ cover, which covers you for all loss or damage, even that which occurs away from your registered premises. As your activities widen and the organisation becomes more complex, it’s crucial to research or revisit your insurance options to make sure that you’re covered for any eventualities.