2020-03-11
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Guide to advertising charitable status on all written materials

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Posted by Robert Lee on 19 May 2015

Robert Lee Partner - Head of Corporate

The reason for publicising the fact that your organisation has charitable status is to ensure that anyone supporting it knows that it is properly regulated and that any money donated will be correctly used as per the stated objectives of the charity. All charities have to be registered with the Charity Commission, and many will also be registered companies, enabling them to manage staff, premises and commercial contracts more efficiently.

Charities registered under company and charity law

All charitable organisations registered under company and charity law in England and Wales must publicise their charitable status on all written material although the amount of information required varies depending on the item. What needs to be published where is detailed below, but it is worth noting that when producing written material specifically for fundraising purposes, the words' Registered Charity' must appear.

All stationery must show the following information:

1. The full company name (e.g. "The Lovely Community Association")

If in the future, your organisation carried on its business in a name other than its registered name (e.g. other than "The Lovely Community Association"), then the corporate name, registered at Companies House, must continue to be shown in addition to the new 'trading' name.

2. The place of registration (i.e. "Registered in England and Wales")

3. The company registration number (i.e. "1212121").

4. The address of its Registered Office

Where only one address appears it is assumed to be the registered office. However, where two or more addresses appear, one must be clearly annotated "registered office".

5. The words "Registered Charity" (the charity registration number may be quoted if desired, but this is not obligatory).

6. If your organisation has been granted an exemption from the use of the word "Limited" in its name, there must be a statement indicating that it is a limited company.

7. The names of all or none of the directors should be included (i.e. it is not permissible to only show, for example, the name of the Chairman).

The full company name (item 1 above) must appear on all:

  • business letters
  • order forms
  • notices and other official publications
  • websites
  • bills of exchange
  • promissory notes
  • endorsements
  • cheques and orders for money, goods or services purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the company
  • all bills of parcels
  • invoices and other demands for payment
  • receipts and letters of credit, and
  • all other forms of its business correspondence and documentation

This applies to all formats in which these documents are produced, including hard copy and electronic.

The full company name, place of registration, registration number, registered office address and reference to limited (items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 above) must appear on all:

  • business letters
  • order forms, and
  • company websites  

This applies to all formats in which these documents are produced, including hard copy and electronic.

The words 'Registered Charity' (item 5 above) must appear on all:

  • notices,
  • advertisements and other documents issued by or on behalf of the charity and soliciting money (e.g. fundraising information) or other property for the benefit of the charity,
  • bills of exchange,
  • promissory notes,
  • endorsements,
  • cheques and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed on behalf of the charity and in all bills rendered by it and in all its
  • invoices, receipts and letters of credit

This applies to all formats in which these documents are produced, including hard copy and electronic.

Applying item 7 is straightforward – if you choose to list your directors on your stationery or elsewhere, it must be the complete list and not part. This decision whether or not to publish a complete list of directors will, most likely, be governed by how many you have.

Charities registered under charity law only

If your registered charity has a gross income in excess of £10,000, you must clearly state the organisation's charitable status in all:

  • notices
  • advertisements and other documents issued by or on behalf of the charity and soliciting money or other property for the benefit of the charity.
  • bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed on behalf of the charity, and;
  • bills rendered by it and in all its invoices, receipts and letters of credit

Charities registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) or the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland have similar obligations to those outlined above which apply to England and Wales. Last but not least, any failure to comply with these requirements may constitute a criminal offence. 

If you are in any doubt about what information to disclose, it is always better to err on the side of caution and provide too much rather than too little.

About the author

Robert Lee

Partner - Head of Corporate

Robert specialises in mergers and acquisitions, and corporate restructuring.

Robert Lee

Robert specialises in mergers and acquisitions, and corporate restructuring.

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