I run a small home for horses and ponies, which are rescued and rehabilitated, and have recently taken in so many animals that I need extra help and funding. I would like to advertise for a volunteer to help me and perhaps find a local sponsor. Do I need to be a registered charity to do this and, if so, how to become one?
LE

IF your organisation is run on a purely charitable basis — none of it makes a profit for any individual — and if your income is higher than £1,000 per year, you are likely to be required by law (1993 Charities Act) to register with the Charity Commission.

This limit may rise to £5,000 per year in 2007, due to the Charities Act 2006, which came into force earlier this month. However, registration is free and bodies with annual incomes below £5,000 will still be allowed to voluntarily register so that their details are in the public domain and can be easily verified by the public.

Benefits of being a charity include not having to pay income tax, capital gains tax, stamp duty and VAT in certain circumstances. Registered charities also generally find it easier to raise money from the public, grant-making bodies and local government than non-charitable organisations. They also have access to advice and a range of free publications supplied by the Charity Commission.

“We register around 5,000 charities every year and have been registering organisations that help animals for some time,” states Christopher Kiggell of the Charity Commission. “In addition, the new Charities Act 2006 expressly recognises the advancement of animal welfare as a charitable purpose.

“Our current target for completing registration is 40 days for a ‘fast track’ application and 87 days for others. An application can normally be fast tracked if it uses one of our existing model documents when applying. In practice, we are currently taking an average of seven days to register fast tracks and 51 days for others.”

Christopher suggests that you first read the publication Registering as a charity ( http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc21.asp , booklet number CC21) for background information, then look at the website section on registering as a charity at http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/registration/default.asp . This includes the forms for application.

Information

Charity Commission (tel: 0845 300 0218) www.charitycommission.gov.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (23 November, ’06)