Charitable Incorporated Organisations

last updated on: 4th Mar 2013

Charitable Incorporated Organisation – is it right for you?
(N.B. This is not an authoritative statement of the law.  You are advised to seek qualified legal advice before entering into any arrangements. More information is available from the Charity Commission at .)

You may have heard about Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs).
A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, or CIO, is a new legal form for a charity.
• is an incorporated form of charity which is not a company
• only has to register with the Charity Commission and not Companies House
• is only created once it is registered by the Commission
• can enter into contracts in its own right and its trustees will normally have limited or no liability for the debts of the CIO

The CIO was created in response to requests from charities for a new structure which could provide some of the benefits of being a company, but without some of the burdens.
Among the potential benefits of setting up a CIO are that its members either have no liability at all or limited liability for its debts if it winds up.  Organisations that own property or employ staff may feel that this protection is a valuable one in case things go wrong.  This may apply to some parishes, but you may also wish to consider other legal structures such as the more familiar Company Limited by Guarantee or a non-charitable Community Interest Company, depending upon your circumstances and needs.  Each of them has slightly different implications and various pros and cons.

The key question, particularly if you employ staff or are involved in property or financial affairs which go beyond the everyday activities of a church, is whether one or other of these incorporated forms is right for you.  Applications for existing charities to set up a CIO will be phased in from 1st March 2013, starting with those whose annual income exceeds £250,000, with all charities being able to register from 1st January 2014.
We suggest that you look at the Charity Commission web site as a first stage.

Jonathan Kerry
Chief Executive & Diocesan Secretary


CIO implementation timetable

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