When is a letter of pledge not enough?

14/11/2011

Well, according to a telephone conversation I had with a Charity Commission employee on the helpline today, a letter of pledge is now never going to be sufficient proof that a charity will receive more than £5,000 in income in its first year of operation for registration purposes.

I asked why this change had come about, and the answer was the Charity Commission had been told by a number of fairly newly registered charities that the funds pledged never came through from the donors. Fair enough, I suppose.

I asked when this change in approach had occurred, and was told that it was “ages ago”, and, when I pressed for more detail than this, that it must have been close to the beginning of the year.

I asked whether this change had been publicised to those assisting with the creation and registration of charities, and was told that I had missed nothing. It had not been publicised at all.

This was slightly annoying. When you’re trying to help people to set up and register charities as quickly and efficiently as possible, it seems perverse for the regulator to make such a decision but not publicise it.

Gritting my teeth slightly, and trying to find out what might now do the job of the letter of pledge, I asked whether a copy of a contract under which the charity is entitled to at least £5,000 of income in its first year of operation would be sufficient proof of income. It would. I then asked if a deed of gift by an individual, which is similarly enforceable by the charity in the courts, would also be sufficient evidence. It would.

So, it looks as though there’s more paperwork for me to prepare (and so more costs incurred for the client), and more paperwork to submit to the Charity Commission on registration. Joy…

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