Our Charity Registration Service, available to member groups, is designed to make the process of registering as a charity as simple as possible.
- It will be the quickest and easiest way for you to register as a charity
- We will take most of the work, and all the worry, away from you
- If you do not receive charity status you will receive a full refund
How does the registration process work?
We will send you a short form asking for some basic information about your group. This will be things like; number of members, cost of membership, music performed etc. You will also need to provide the relevant documents (constitution, proof of income etc.).
We will use this information to compile your application and send it back to you within 10 working days. Once you are happy with the information, we will submit the application on your behalf. Any questions the Charity Commission has will come to us.
“The service you offer is quite simply fantastic. Any member making application for charitable status would be crazy not to use your experience. The hours that can be spent trying to get wording correct and meet requirements that are not always transparent, can be avoided and the process is so much quicker." - Ken Scott, Energize Community Choir
“The service you’ve provided has been truly exceptional and greatly appreciated. Your expert assistance ensured that we successfully completed the process of registration with the Charity Commission speedily and with the minimum of effort. I strongly recommend others to register using the Making Music service.”
- Richard Cryer, Monmouth Big Band
If you want to use our charity registration service please contact us.
If you are still unsure if you need to register and how it all works see the FAQs below.
Why should we register as a charity?
Registering as a charity isn’t necessarily a choice. If you are based in England and Wales and have a charitable constitution you are probably already considered a charity. If you are, and your income is over £5,000/year (before deducting expenditure) you must register as a charity.
If you are based in Scotland and have a charitable constitution then you must register with OSCR to be recognised as a charity.
There are benefits to being a registered charity too – see below for more details.
What is a charitable constitution?
A document that establishes you as a charity or as having charitable status. The essence of this is:
- A charitable purpose with a public benefit – in the case of our members this will be to do with music and music education
- A finance clause that states any income will only be used towards achieving your charitable purpose
- A dissolution clause that states what will happen to any assets if you disband (they will go to a charity with similar aims to yours)
If you are a Full member of Making Music your constitution could include the above clauses – and so establishes you as having charitable status.
What if our income is under £5,000?
If you are based in England and Wales then you don’t need to register, and indeed can’t. The Charity Commission will only register groups with an income of over £5,000. However, you do still have charitable status and so are subject to charity regulation, as well as being eligible for Gift Aid and other benefits – see here for more information.
If you are based in Scotland and want to be recognised as a charity, then you would need to register with OSCR regardless of the group's income.
Why should we adopt the Making Music model constitution?
Apart from meaning you are eligible for the Charity Registration service at a lower cost; our model constitution has lots of other benefits. Indeed, even if you don’t need to register we still recommend you consider adopting it, especially those using our old model constitution (pre April 2015). The main benefits of our new model are:
- It is a Charity Commission approved document and will ensure you are compliant with the latest charity regulation
- It is a thorough document that provides a clear framework of how to run your charity and what is expected of trustees; helping you to run your charity in an efficient and responsible way
- It has robust clauses around membership and trustees which will stand you in excellent stead if you ever experience any problems in these areas.
- Having an approved constitution also means we, and the Charity Commission, can offer quick and detailed advice as we will be working with our own document.
How do we adopt the model constitution?
This will depend on your current constitution – there should be a clause that explains how to make any changes. The most common scenario is a member vote at an AGM or SGM. We are happy to advise further on this if your current constitution is not clear.
Will being a registered charity affect how we run our group?
There is no reason it should. If you have a charitable constitution then you are already a charity and so are subject to charity regulation. Your constitution may come under some scrutiny as part of the registration process – but we can help with that.
There are benefits to being a registered charity: you will receive an official charity number and be listed in the Charity Commissions public register of charities. This can help with fundraising – the charity number adds authority to your cause and some funders will only speak with registered charities.
Being a registered charity comes with some annual reporting requirements to the Charity Commission. Exactly what is involved depends on income. At the lowest level (£5K-10K) it is just submitting income and expenditure figures and keeping trustee details up to date. If your income is over £25,000 you will have to submit accounts. You can find more details in our trustee handbook.
Once you become a registered charity you will continue to receive support from us – we have guidance for charity trustees and keep on top of any changes and updates you need to know about. And, as ever, we are always happy to answer questions and offer advice over the phone or by email.
Can we register on our own?
Yes – you do not have to use our service. Many groups have registered on their own in the past, and using our model constitution (see below) will help. However, it is a time-consuming and often difficult task for groups. For most, our service offers the quickest and easiest route to registration.
If you do decide to do it yourself you will need to complete the online form on the Charity Commission’s website. You will be asked to supply a range of information including: what your charity does and who benefits, how you achieve your charitable purpose, how you deliver public benefit and how you offer artistic merit.
- Apply using your own constitution (i.e. not our model): this will be the most work for you in terms of submitting the application. The Charity Commission will evaluate your constitution and application and may contact you with follow-up questions. The wait time varies but is normally at least a few weeks. If there are any questions, the wait time will increase.
- Apply using our model constitution: the process is as above but you can say you are using our model – this will make the application process quicker. You still have to complete the rest of the form and the Charity commission may have questions.
Type of application
Using our Model Constitution
(England, Scotland Wales)
Not using our Model Constitution
(England, Scotland Wales)
(England and Wales only)
If you would like to apply for charitable status in Northern Ireland or as an SCIO in Scotland please get in touch.
What to do next
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.