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 read the NCVO summary and watch the LawWorks video.

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. If you would prefer to talk to someone first or would like some help filling in the form, please email or call 0330 2369350 and one of our team will call you back within one working day.

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,  please complete the Support Request Form online and one of our VCSE officers will get back to you. If you would prefer to speak to a member of team, please phone 0330 236 9350.


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.

Read the Charity Commission guidance to find out about the different options and how to go about it. If you are setting up a CIO,  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; watch its 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