Organisational structures

There are several different legal structures which you could choose from, depending upon the purpose of your organisation and the size and nature of your operation.

For an overview and pros and cons of each structure see the NCVO summary and you may find the LawWorks video useful.

The following links give further information as well as tools to help you decide.

For further help understanding the organisational structures and finding the best one for you please book a free support session.

Have a look at FAQs on Organisational Structures

Would it help to become a small charity or a constituted group?

  • Being a small charity or constituted group could allow you to access grant funding such that might not otherwise be available.
  • Your supporters will have more confidence that you are transparent and accountable.
  • It could give a helpful structure to how you run your group and make decisions.

You can find all the information and guidance you need in the steps to setting up a small charity or a constituted group on our Getting Started page.

For one-to-one support and advice, get in touch with us via

We want to convert an existing not-for-profit organisation to become incorporated. How do we do that?

You may decide to change your legal structure to become incorporated, for example to limit trustees’ liability or to be able to enter into contracts or a lease more easily. As a charity you may decide to set up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) which is a specific legal form available for charities. The Charity Commission guidance tells you about the different options and how to go about it. If you are setting up a CIO you may also like to watch the video from LawWorks .

How do I set up a charity?

The Charity Commission provides information on what you need to do to set up a charity and have a video on making an application. You may also find the following useful:


A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a particular legal structure which is specifically for social enterprises, although it is not the only legal form. A social enterprise is a not-for-profit business with primarily social or environmental objectives which intends to trade or sell services, although it may also receive some grant funding and donations; however, a CIC cannot simultaneously be a charity. For more information see the following links. 

Image courtesy of Wheelpower