If you are contemplating assisting with the current crisis, you should first consider the terms of your charity’s existing charitable objects which are set out in your governing document.
Objects that might already allow you to offer support include:
- The relief of poverty
- The relief of need hardship or distress
- The relief of the elderly
- The advancement of education or advancement in life of young people
- The advancement of health
Trustees of charities with other objects may also be able to adapt and respond to COVID-19 either directly or indirectly. For example, a charity with the object to advance religion may be able to offer support as part of its pastoral work. Your charity may also have a general object that allows you to act for any charitable purposes or an object that allows you to support the general benefit of a local area.
You should check whether your objects have any restrictions, for example, to benefit a particular local area or class of beneficiaries.
If your existing objects do not allow you to help, you may be able to amend your governing document to change them. You should however consider the wider and longer-term impacts if you use your charity’s money for purposes other than those for which it was raised and be mindful to consider your existing beneficiaries whose needs may be less pressing but no less deserving.
If you want to change your charitable objects, you should check to see whether your trustees have the powers to amend them. If not, you may need permission from the Charity Commission. Any changes proposed should be reasonable, consistent with what your charity does, and not undermine your existing objects.
For further advice and guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us.