Legal Advice for Charitable Incorporated Organisations

If you have established a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) or are thinking of doing so, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure all your statutory responsibilities are being fulfilled. JMW Solicitors can provide specialist legal guidance for CIOs at every stage of the management process.

If you require assistance with setting up a CIO or advice on the requirements involved in maintaining this organisational structure, the wills, trusts and estates team at JMW can offer expert advice tailored to your specific circumstances, ensuring you are able to handle any challenges efficiently while remaining in full regulatory compliance.

For advice on all aspects of setting up and running a CIO, call JMW Solicitors today on 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.
How JMW Can Help
Our expert Wills, trust and estate planning solicitors have extensive experience of assisting with the running of CIOs, and are dedicated to making it as simple and stress-free as possible.

We provide legal advice walking you through the entire process of setting up a CIO, whether from scratch or from the basis of a pre-existing organisation. We will also advise you on the potential benefits, drawbacks and overall suitability of different solutions for your specific circumstances.

JMW Solicitors is highly experienced in this field, and our team are often asked to give seminars on various matters pertaining to wills, trusts and estate planning. The firm has been hailed as one of the best in the business in the Chambers and Legal 500 guides, with Chambers 2019 noting that we deal with “both small everyday matters or complex transactions involving many legal areas”.

Talk to Us

For expert legal advice for charitable incorporated organisations, call JMW on 0345 872 6666. Alternatively, you can fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.


What is a CIO?

A charitable incorporated organisation represents an innovative operating model for charitable ventures that allows them to incorporate and function similarly to a company, but without requiring joint regulation by both the Charity Commission and Companies House.

The main attribute of a CIO is that it has legal personality and limited liability, meaning the organisation can conduct business in its own name, and its members and trustees will not be held personally liable in the event of financial loss.

Administered solely by the Charity Commission, CIOs operate under two main models. Foundation CIOs have closed memberships, meaning their voting members and charity trustees are the same group of individuals, whereas association CIOs offer open membership, and can be joined by members who are not trustees.

How do I set up a CIO?

Establishing a CIO as a new charity means setting out a charitable constitution in line with Charity Commission guidelines, and applying online with the necessary documentation. If the constitution meets the Commission’s standards for charitable goals and the proposed name of the organisation is approved, the CIO can be successfully registered.

How can I convert a corporate charitable company into a CIO?
Charitable companies can convert into a CIO while maintaining its existing name and charity number, as well as carrying over its current bank accounts and any legacies left to the original charitable company.

The company will need to apply to the Charity Commission through a resolution passed by all of the charity’s relevant decision-makers, with a copy of the constitution and a declaration of the eligibility of the proposed trustees. If these checks are passed, Companies House will remove the charity from its register of companies, and the organisation will formally become a CIO.

How can I convert an unincorporated charity into a CIO?

If the pre-existing charity has not been incorporated, it will be necessary to register a CIO from scratch and then transfer the original charity’s assets to it.

This can be a legally complex process - the original charity’s governing document may not allow you to give away all its assets, for example, while trustees who are affiliated with both the old and new organisation may encounter conflicts of interest. When these issues arise, direct adjudication and approval from the Charity Commission may be needed.

It is highly advisable to seek legal advice when converting an unincorporated charity into a CIO, in order to make the process as smooth as possible.

What are the benefits of setting up a CIO?

Compared to other charity organisational structures, CIOs are able to simplify various processes and mitigate key risks for members and trustees.

CIOs are only required to deal with the Charity Commission as their regulator, whereas a limited company charity would also be expected to file accounts with Companies House.

Because it has a legal personality of its own and can conduct business in its own name, trustees will not need to make themselves personally responsible for the organisation’s decisions, as is the case with an unincorporated charity. Members and trustees will also be personally protected from any financial and contractual liabilities incurred by a CIO in most cases.

Talk to Us

For more information on the legal support services we offer for CIOs, call JMW Solicitors on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back at a time that is convenient for you.

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