The Voluntary Sector
The so called voluntary sector now represents a very significant part of the national economy in the funds it generates, the number of people it employs and the contribution it makes to the general well being of our country. It plays a part in almost every aspect of daily life you can think of, education, health, religion, the arts, sport, local government, the environment, animal welfare – the list really is endless in that new activities are being continually added. And all this has been happening long before we heard anything about “the Big Society”.
The voluntary sector is made up of charities, community interest companies and other kinds of not for profit organisation from the very small to the giants such as the National Trust, now one of the largest landowners in the country.
The term “voluntary sector” is somewhat misleading in so far as it implies that those working in it are all volunteers giving their time and skills without any financial reward. While that is often true in the case of smaller organisations it is quite otherwise in the case of larger ones which frequently employ well paid executives as well as specialists in relevant fields. Nor is the term “not for profit” all that it seems. Many organisations in the voluntary sector aim to make substantial profits although this is to help support their work rather than benefit their members.
The fact that an organisation, however small, is run on a not for profit basis by unpaid volunteers does not exempt it from the effects of the law: quite the opposite especially in the case of charities.
At Blanchards Bailey we have many years’ experience of acting for charities most of them, but not all, local. We are able to advise on the most suitable form of legal structure (including the long promised charitable incorporated organisations when eventually they become available), on formulating the objects and ensuring that they meet the necessary degree of public benefit. We can form a suitable company and deal with registration at the Charity Commission.
We are able to give sound, intelligible and straightforward advice to charitable trustees on their duties and responsibilities and for whom we can arrange seminars and in-house training. We can advise on such matters as setting up trading companies, fund raising, participation with other organisations and mergers. And, of course, in conjunction with other departments of the firm we can deal with property and employment matters and, should they arise, with disputes.
We have recently acted in setting up a charity working among disadvantaged women in Ethiopia, another providing support for the elderly in Nepal, another which helps members of the gypsy and travellers’ community become more integrated with the local community and another which runs a community sports centre. We have also recently advised a large number of local schools working in partnership in formalising their arrangements and an arts client in matters of governance.