You need to register a new company limited by guarantee (as opposed to shares) or a CIC at Companies House. You can do this online via the Companies House Online website: https://www.gov.uk/setting-up-charity
New applications are usually approved within two working days from receipt. You should check that your intended name is ***** ***** in use and is not misleading. For example, your charity name should not include “Solicitor” or “Law Firm” if you do not provide legal services and are not authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
As a limited entity, you and the other trustees will enjoy the protection of separate legal personality. The charity’s and the trustees’ personal assets will be entirely separate, and the charity’s creditors will not be able to pursue the trustees’ personal monies and property for the charity’s debts and other liabilities.
In addition, charities are largely exempt from paying tax, apart from VAT and PAYE Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions on their employees’ salaries.
However, in return for the benefit of separate legal personality comes the onerous requirements of openness, transparency, and a certain degree of publicity in your charity’s affairs. You must file Annual Returns and Accounts at Companies House in accordance with their deadlines.
I strongly recommend that you retain the services of a qualified accountant. They will be able to register the charity at HM Revenue & Customs and be able to manage your accounts and tax liabilities via a secure cloud-based provider such as Xero, Zoho and Free Agent. Your accountant will prepare your Annual Returns and Confirmation Statements and file these at Companies House.
A commercial solicitor can also draft business, employment, and property contracts for you and manage your business affairs and deal with any potential disputes that may arise.
In order to satisfy HM Revenue & Customs that your organisation is a charity and deserves the tax breaks and other advantages of charitable status, you need to satisfy HMRC that the organisation has one of 13 “Charitable Purposes”: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charitable-purposes/charitable-purposes.
These include the relief or prevention of poverty, the advancement of religion, the advancement of citizenship or community development, the advancement of amateur sport, the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity, the advancement of education and the advancement of citizenship or community development.
From your instructions, your charity should satisfy one of these requirements without difficulty.