Until November, our legal name was Share Bristol CIC – with the CIC standing for Community Interest Company, a type of legal structure meaning the organisation couldn’t be used for commercial ends. It was a relatively quick and easy way to set up the organisation back in the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns, but it did have some limitations.
Over the summer, with a bit of pro bono help from the legal eagles at Bevan Brittan and lots of patience from a couple of our more detail-orientated Directors, we worked towards becoming a Registered Charity. In November, we finally got the approval – we are now a charity! So, we’ve lost the CIC from our name, but hope to gain so much more….
Firstly, not many people know what a CIC is, but pretty much everyone understands that a charity is there for public good, to provide a really worthwhile service, and that funds cannot be spent on anything except trying to provide that service. So we thought being a charity would be a great way to quickly communicate that we are just here to make the world a better place.
Secondly, we rely on grants and other donations to make ends meet. As a CIC we weren’t eligible for all grants, but as a charity we should be. And as a charity we can claim Gift Aid on donations from UK taxpayers, which can add 25% to their value.
Thirdly, with plans to open our second site soon, in Bedminster, and to expand across the city after that, we’ve been really worried about the cost of business rates. We don’t have to pay them at the moment, as with one site we are too small to incur them, but that would change as soon as we opened Bedminster. As a charity, we hope to get relief from the vast majority of business rates – making the chances of each Library covering its costs much more realistic.
So, three good reasons to change we thought. We hope you agree too and can see the sense.
So what does it mean?
In practice, for our members and volunteers, it doesn’t mean anything, except that we hope this change will help us be even bigger and better in future.
For our volunteers on the Board, it changes a lot more. We’re still Directors under company law, but are also now Trustees registered with the Charity Commission, and there are more regulations, governance rules and reporting to make sure we are maintaining the high standards expected of all charities. It will take us a while to get everything updated to reflect our new name and status, and we need to be careful we’re doing everything right.
We’re looking for a new Trustee actually, to help us with this. So if you know someone who is great with regulations, has an eye for detail and is a safe pair of hands, please let them know we are looking for someone just like them!
Thank you for your support in helping us get this far. We look forward to the next, charitable, chapter.
Your Board of Trustees,
Ben, Anna P, Lindsay, Josh, Anna R and Karen