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Charities and voluntary sector


Charities and voluntary sectors

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This section of the Site deals with the law and regulation affecting the activities of the charitable and voluntary sectors.

The regulation of charitable and voluntary sector activity in the United Kingdom has developed over centuries. Legislation and case law has developed piecemeal and while there have been efforts to reform the law at various times, the relevant law is complicated and incoherent.

It is convenient to deal separately with charities on the one hand and other voluntary sector activities: see below. However, the subject of finance and funding covers both charitable and other voluntary sector activities  and is dealt with in its own section.



By definition, a charity is not a “business” in the ordinary sense as it is not run for profit. However a charity may own another organisation which is run for profit.

An organisation which carries on activities exclusively for purposes recognised by the law as charitable is commonly known as a “charity”. The legal concept of a charity has existed for hundreds of years in English law and is now governed by the Charities Act 2006.
The Charities Act 2006  lists the purposes which qualify for charitable status. Read more>

Social enterprises and not for profit organisations

Non-charitable voluntary sector activities are considered here under the category of social enterprises. 'Social enterprise' is a relatively modern expression which has been defined as: An enterprise that is owned by those who work in it and/or reside in a given locality, is governed by registered social as well as commercial aims and objectives and run co-operatively. In the British context, social enterprises include community enterprises, credit unions, trading arms of charities, employee-owned businesses, co-operatives, development trusts, housing associations, social firms, and leisure trusts.

Possible structures for a social enterprise and not for profit organisations include: unincorporated association; trust; company limited by guarantee; community enterprise company; Industrial and Provident Society/Community Benefit Society. Read more>

Finance and funding for charities and the voluntary sector

In this sub-section, we deal with government and other sources of funding, some tax aspects and the regulation of fund raising. Read more>

[Page created: 11/05/2014]



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Social enterprises
Charity and voluntary funding