Public Policy
Governance of Fundraising within the UK

The governance of fundraising and the charitable status of institutions within the UK is complicated. The statutory regulator, for example will vary amongst our members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Within each of the devolved UK nations, the statutory regulator also depends on the type of institution.

Below is an outline, nation by nation, institution type by institution type, of the relevant regulators for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Following Sir Stuart Etherington's report on the self-regulation of fundraising, there will be changes in England and Wales. There is also the possibility of change in Scotland and in Northern Ireland given their recent reviews of fundraising regulation. As changes occur, these pages will be updated. 

England

Schools and colleges (general)

  • Schools and colleges funded by the state but independently governed can be charities
  • Certain specific classes of charity in England and Wales are exempt (and the educational ones all have principal regulators responsible for overseeing compliance with charity law)
  • Traditional independent schools are charities. The Charity Commission is the primary regulator. 

State schools

  • Community schools. These are not charitable, are local authority funded and controlled
  • Foundation, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools are local authority funded exempt charities
  • Academies are classified as ‘publicly funded independent schools' by the Department for Education (DfE). Direct funding by DfE takes them out of the category of "maintained" school and they are classed as exempt charities
  • Academy trusts are direct funding by DfE and are exempt charities

FE Colleges

  • Sixth form college corporations and further education corporations are exempt charities. Eton and Winchester Colleges are non-exempt.

Universities
Universities in England are exempt charities save for the colleges and halls of Cambridge, Durham and Oxford universities. These non-exempt institutions are required to register with the Charity Commission. HEFCE is the principal regulator of the remaining higher education institutions (HEIs).

Cultural Bodies
Most museums are exempt, save for the Museum of London which is required to register with the Charity Commission.

Scotland

There are no exempt charities in Scotland.

State Schools

Independent schools

  • Scottish ministers register independent schools. They are also regulated by Education Scotland. Those that are registered as charities are regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator

FE Colleges

  • FE colleges are funded and overseen by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). All FE colleges are registered as charities and are regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Universities

  • Scottish universities are funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). All of the Scottish universities are registered as charities and are regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Cultural bodies

  • All of the national collections, along with many other cultural bodies, are registered as charities and are regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Wales

State schools

  • Community schools are not charitable, are local authority funded and controlled
  • Foundation, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled are local authority funded exempt charities
  • Academies are classified as ‘publicly funded independent schools' by Department for Education (DfE) as direct funding by DfE takes them out of the category of "maintained" school - They are classed as exempt charities 

Independent Schools

  • May be exempt or excepted but still needs to register with the Charity Commission

Universities

  • Universities in Wales are required to register with the Charity Commission.

Northern Ireland

There are no exempt charities Northern Ireland. Registration is, however, a new process in Northern Ireland.
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is managing registration in stages. Only organisations which have been called forward by the Commission, and have received an application password, will be able to apply to register as a charity at present.

Please see the Charity Commission's website for further details.

Useful links

Exempt charities (England and Wales)
For details of exempt charities and their principal regulators.

Annex 1: Exempt charities and their principal regulators

Charity Commission (England and Wales)
Quick guide for governors