Running a Charity: A Beginner’s Guide | VS Group

Running a charity is no easy job – but it’s highly rewarding if you do it right.

Before running a charity, you’ll need to establish your organisation’s eligibility for charitable status. Once you’ve done that, you can get the ball rolling to establish and run your newly founded charity.

This guide will outline the key things you need to consider to effectively run a charity, covering everything from fundraising and finance to communication infrastructure.

Setting up a charity – what to remember

Before you get started with running a charity, you need to know how to set one up. Bear in mind that the process below is only for charities established in England and Wales – it’s different if you’re located in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

You’ll need to check if your organisation is eligible to be charitable. For an organisation to be eligible for charity status, its purpose must be of public benefit.

Once you’ve ascertained your eligibility, you need to start thinking about what kind of structure and name you want your charity to have, as well as defining your mission, purpose and objectives. The best way to do so is by creating a governing document. The Charity Commission provides useful guidance and templates to help you do so.

You’ll also need to find trustees or directors to help with governance and oversight. It’s important to have individuals who are passionate about your charity’s cause, and to choose people with a range of skills from diverse areas.

Lastly, you must apply to register your charity with the Charity Commission. You’ll also want to register with HMRC so that you can benefit from schemes like Gift Aid donations.

Running a charity – your go-to guide

Now that you’ve successfully set your charity up, it’s time to discuss running it. This guide will break down some of the key areas you need to consider to effectively run a charity.

Staff and volunteers

The success of your charity will be dictated by the people who work for it. So, you need to employ a dedicated team of staff and potentially make use of volunteers in order to meet your objectives whilst achieving day-to-day success.

Staff

Before you begin employing staff, be sure you’re familiar with employment law. As an employer, you’ll have a legal obligation to paid members of staff. You’ll also become legally responsible for your staff’s health and safety. Establishing policies and procedures is the best way to ensure that you’re compliant with all regulations. Policies and procedures outline how your charity intends to operate and should detail the individuals responsible for ensuring this conduct is followed.

Flexible working has now become more popular than ever. Employees have the legal right to request flexible working based on certain factors, and you must consider these requests in each instance.

With that in mind, you may want to build a flexible working culture. Doing so will require your charity to have robust but reliable IT and telecoms solutions to ensure that your employees can better communicate and collaborate. VS Group can act as the guardian to your charity’s IT infrastructure, helping you with everything from remote working to cybersecurity. We’ll give you the best technology at an affordable price and will remain on top of an ever-changing IT landscape, recommending improvements and updates as digital services improve.

Plus, VoIP offers a scalable way for your staff to remain in communication – no matter where they’re working from. By choosing to migrate now, you’ll also be future proofing your charity before the old landline network is taken out of service in late 2025.

Volunteers

If your charity looks set to rely on volunteers, you’ll also need to write up a volunteering strategy and policy, as well as establishing a volunteer management strategy and ensuring you have volunteer insurance.

Though unpaid, volunteers still have some employment rights under the Equality Act 2010, and you’ll need to ensure you comply with these. Depending on your charity’s services and community, you’ll also need to think hard about safeguarding vulnerable adults and children and DBS checks for volunteers.

Fundraising and financial management

Charity finance

Charities have different regulatory and reporting regimes to non-charitable organisations. That said, charities registered with the Charity Commission must still prepare annual accounts as well as a Trustees Annual Report, and there are particular rules and regulations around what these reports must include.

The Charity Commission provides helpful Excel templates and advice on how best to compile both. You’ll also find templates for the Trustees Annual Report.

Your charity will need proper processes, procedures and internal controls to help reduce the risk of fraud and safeguard your organisation. These should be reviewed every year to ensure that they are both legally compliant and function according to ever-changing regulations.

Your bookkeeping and accounting records need to ensure that your charity’s trustees can meet the requirements of the Charities Act.

Be sure you have a financial strategy to help with your charity’s planning and budgeting. This should explain your current charity model, how you expect to fund operations, any financial implications of this approach, and any risks. Staying on top of budgeting is vital, and it’s sensible to build a cashflow forecast to help your charity make informed decisions and reduce risk.

Charity fundraising

As a charity, you’ll need to establish a fundraising strategy as well as your financial strategy. Having a robust fundraising strategy that’s well thought through is key to ensuring your charity’s long-term stability and sustainability.

Common funding sources include individual donations, external grants, corporate sponsorships or partnerships, and fundraising events.

Diversifying fundraising is the best strategy to alleviate risk – aim for a mix of funding streams. Demonstrating your impact to potential partners and donators is a great way of encouraging continued support, as is the establishment and expansion of relationships.

Communication and brand awareness

One of the best ways to establish, secure and expand your fundraising is through effective communication and outreach strategies! Attract donors, engage beneficiaries, and build partnerships with a savvy internal and external communications practice.

You’ll need to establish key communication channels. A professional website with accessible information about your charity’s mission, programme, and fundraising opportunities is vital. You should also make use of social media and email campaigns to attract and retain supporters and continue to reach ever-broader audiences.

As well as a stable external communications strategy, your charity will need an internal platform that helps you reduce costs without compromising on connectivity.

At VS Group, we pride ourselves on serving as a one-stop shop for all your charity’s telephony and communications needs.

Connectivity is more important than ever for charities, and we’ll work with you to make sure you have the right broadband service at the right price to meet both your current and future digital needs. We can also find bespoke mobile deals that will keep your staff connected without breaking the bank. Plus, we’ve got ample web hosting packages to take the headache out of managing your charity’s web presence, and can also help you to secure a memorable domain name that’ll help your charity build a better online presence.

Legal requirements

You need to ensure your charity operates within the law.

All charities must comply with the Charities Act 2022, as well as the Trustees Act 2000.

If you’re in doubt about your legal obligations, the Charity Commission provides detailed guidance on the legal or regulatory requirements that both a charity and tis trustees either ‘must’ or ‘should’ comply with.

Modern slavery statement

If your charity is incorporated, you’ll need to publish a modern slavery statement. There are certain inclusions that a modern slavery statement must outline, including the steps taken by the organisation to ensure that neither slavery nor human trafficking is taking place in the totality of the charity.

Depending on the level of risk in the area your charity serves, you may even need to produce a bespoke policy on modern slavery.

Financial compliance

We detail the kind of financial regulations your charity needs to comply with above.

You’ll also need to accord to the Statement of Recommended Practice for charity accounting, and the Fundraising Regulator (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland), which advocates best fundraising practices.

Insurance

As a charity, you should invest in risk management strategies to protect your organisation via insurance. It’s also a legal responsibility for charity trustees.

The right insurance for your charity will depend on your needs and services. You may need public liability insurance, and if you have employees, you’re legally required to hold employer’s liability insurance. You may also need insurance for volunteers, too.

Help your charity to run better with a streamlined communication strategy

VS Group are a telecoms company that charities trust. We help charities save an average of 30% compared to their current technology spend, helping you to better serve your community.

Find out how VS Group can help your organisation by booking a demo with us via our online contact page, or email us on customerservice@vsgcomms.com.

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