All change for the Annual Return…
Accurately completing the Charity Commission Annual Return should be a top priority for all charity boards. The data declared on it is used by the Commission to regulate the sector and is often the first information a member of the public will see about your charity, when searching on the charity register.
The annual return is required from all registered charities with income of over £10,000 for the financial year, and all charitable incorporated organisations regardless of size. It must be filed within 10 months of your financial year, with late filings being clearly highlighted by the Commission on the public record.
Familiarise yourself with what’s new
Following a late-2022 consultation, the Charity Commission have launched a brand-new Annual Return for 2023. This includes many more questions and significantly more information that you will need to gather to complete your return.
Depending on the size and circumstances of your charity, you will need to complete anywhere between 26 and 49 questions on the 2023 return.
The Commission are asking more about:
- dependence on particular income streams
- the largest donations received from individuals, corporate donors and related parties
- arrangements with those conducting activities overseas on your behalf
- the charity’s membership
- the extent to which charities have key policies and procedures in place
- whether the charity has met the required safeguarding standards
- the impact of significant external events (e.g. Ukraine war, the cost-of-living crisis) on the charity
Top tips for success!
Make sure you are well prepared and start the process for gathering the required information well before the submission deadlines. Read through the Charity Commission’s 2023 AR question guide and write a list of what information you will need and from whom.
If you are a trustee who doesn’t normally get involved in submitting the annual return, encourage your board to formally approve a draft before it gets submitted. The annual return is as important as your annual accounts, so make sure you are content with what is being submitted.
Need some support?
Burton Sweet has a longstanding commitment to charities and civil society organisations, offering practical, professional and passionate support. We want to assist you, so you can deliver effectively for the communities you serve and show the good you do.
If you want some guidance on completing your annual return or some advice on putting together key policies and procedures, please get in touch with our Head of Charity Development, Ed Marsh (01179738441).
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