How long does it take to set up a charity?

Charity registration times are increasing year by year.

According to, there are 6 steps to setting up your own charity:

  1. Find at least 3 trustees
  2. Make sure that the charity has ‘charitable purposes for the public benefit’.
  3. Choose a name for your charity
  4. Choose a structure for your charity
  5. Create a governing document
  6. Register as a charity, if your charitable income is over £5,000, or if you set up as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).

After you find at least 3 trustees, the next potentially lengthy process is choosing a structure for your charity and creating a governing document for your charity.

Choose a structure for your charity

The government lists four common types of structures that you may choose:

  1. Charitable Company – formed as a private company limited by guarantee rather than shares
  2. Charitable Trust – a group of trustees that manages money, investments, or land
  3. Charitable incorporated Organisation (CIO) – an incorporated entity registered with the Charity Commission, but not Companies House
  4. Unincorporated Charitable Association – a group of volunteers running a charity with no employees or premises.

Register as a charity

After that, it’s smooth sailing right up until the point where you need to submit your application to register as a charity or a charitable incorporated organisation. In 2017, the Charity Commission released an article emphasising that the registration team received a record number of applications to become a charity and applications could take up to 12 weeks.

However, the number of charity applications has increased year on year, therefore unfortunately the wait time has also increased.

In 2019, there were reports that it can take up to 5-6 months, with one account stating that it took 8 months for a complicated charity with a wide remit and even longer if the Charity Commission comes back with additional questions, which can drag the process up to and over a year. Additionally, the more complicated the charity and charitable aims, the longer it may take to set up.

Obviously, the charity you may wish to set up needs to meet certain criteria within the UK, for example, you have to have an income of over £5,000 to register as a charity (if you do not have this income, you can instead set up as a charitable incorporated organisation). Whilst your application will result in a thorough assessment of your charitable aims, and overall proposed charity structure to prevent poor philanthropic governance, the delays for registering continue to build.

What are your alternative options?

Setting up a charitable foundation with GivingWorks negates this delay. A GivingWorks charitable foundation gives you the full impact of a charity without the need to go through the lengthy process of establishing one from scratch.

We provide a simple solution, putting you in control. We provide the trustees, carry out due diligence and ensure that your objectives meet the Charity Commission’s guidelines so that you can focus on your philanthropic goals.

Contact the GivingWorks team today to get this process started!