A charitable organisation relied on donations from the public in order to function, and they received a letter from Charities Services saying they were no longer registered as a charity. 

This was at a key time of year when they were doing a funding drive.  Because they were not registered, they could not hold themselves out as a charity, and it nearly caused the organisation to have to wind up. 

It turned out the reason this had happened was that they had failed to file annual returns for two years in a row.  They had not realised this was the case, as one trustee thought the other trustee was filing them and vice versa. 

They further realised that the PO Box address that Charities Services had on record had not been checked for many years – they only happened to receive the letter when they went to close the PO Box and realised there was mail in it!

It is one of the key obligations of a charity to file annual returns with Charities Services.  This confirms the charity’s financial status, and officers, on an annual basis.  It is a ground for the Registrar to remove a charity if it fails to file, as in this case.

This serves as a reminder to make sure that as officers of an organisation, you keep track of who is responsible for what, and make sure officer and contact details are kept up to date. 

There is a process available to challenge a removal from the register, but in some cases it is easier to start the registration process again. 

It pays to take legal advice so you know which option is best for your particular organisation.

Claire Tyler