Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO)

If you employ staff or are involved in property or financial affairs which go beyond the everyday activities of a church, you may be thinking about what legal structure you should take.

This page offers an overview of Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) so you can compare them with other options.

Please note: The content on this page 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 . It has some useful information about setting up and running a charity.

What is a CIO?

A CIO, is a new legal form for a charity. It 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.


  • 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.

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.

For more infomation about a PCC Charity Number click here.

For more infomation and advice, please contact Jonathan Kerry, Chief Executive & Diocesan Secretary on or 0116 261 5326

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