The Charity Commission’s guidance has been updated to give consideration of the extent to which the charity sector can undertake activities aiming to help with the effects of the virus.
Charities may be keen to tackle the Coronavirus and its impact, but not all charities will find themselves in a position to help. It depends on their Objects, or charitable aims, as set out in their governing documents.
The Commission confirms that charities with the following Objects may be able to offer support during the pandemic:
- the relief of poverty
- the relief of need hardship or distress
- the relief of the elderly
- the advancement of education or advancement in life of young people and
- the advancement of health.
Charities with a general charitable Object of furthering any charitable purpose will also be able to act in these circumstances.
Trustees of charities with other objects may also be able to adapt and respond to COVID-19 either directly or indirectly. For example, a charity with an object to advance religion may be able to offer support as part of its pastoral work. An arts charity might help relieve isolation through its online work.
The guidance also emphasises that before starting new activities in response to the pandemic, a charity should check not just that its Objects allow this, but also that in doing so the charity will be complying with any restrictions, perhaps as to classes of beneficiaries or geographical locations for example, contained in its governing document.
If you want to change your charitable objects, you should check to see whether your trustees have the powers to amend them, for example using an express power in your governing document. If not, you may need permission from the Charity Commission . For example if your organisation is a company or a CIO, a change to the objects is a ‘regulated amendment’ which would require our consent.
We can advise on and deal with these matters if you wish – email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01925757887.