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Structural integrity

Darren Hooker considers the options available to charities hoping to change their legal structure, and the advantages and disadvantages of each

26 May 2017

One of the most important decisions that those setting up a charity will make is which legal structure they should adopt. Broadly, the choice is between an unincorporated association, a trust, a company limited by guarantee (CLG), a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), and a community benefit society (CBS). There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and those setting up the charity will of course want to try to choose the most appropriate legal structure for their situation.

Choosing a structure at the outset does though involve making some predictions or assumptions as to how a charity will operate. It may be that, in practice, factors such as the availability of funding or property or the rate of growth of the charity mean that a charity evolves and moves in an unanticipated direction. It may also be that changes in the law mean that new advantages or disadvantages apply to particular structures.

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