Charity annual returns

29th January 2020

Having out-of-date information or late annual returns can put off potential donors, funders or volunteers.”

Charity Commission Annual Report 2018-19

Charities perform a vital role in UK society; targeting support at local, national, or even international level. They are supported in their work by a mix of volunteers and paid staff and by the population as a whole. The Charities Aid Foundation 2019 UK giving report revealed that in 2018 65% of the population gave money to charity either through donations or sponsorship, with 87% having taken part in charitable activities within the previous year.

The same report revealed that the peak time for giving is November and December, partly due to fundraising events being targeted towards that time of year. That can place a strain on charities at an already busy time of year. It is therefore perhaps worth remembering that in addition to fundraising and delivering the aims of the charity, certain statutory returns are also required.

One of these, the annual return, has to be submitted within ten months of the end of the charity’s financial year. So for charities with a financial year end of 31 March 2019, the deadline is 31 January 2020. The Charity Commission says that following changes the annual return is more proportionate than in the past with many smaller charities required to answer fewer questions. Nevertheless, the return is a leading source of calls to the Charity Commission help centre. With that in mind, what are the key points of the annual return?

How is the return submitted? Submissions are made online. The majority of questions require written answers; however, some charities will also need to upload certain PDFs.

What information is required? Charities with income under £10,000 only need to report income and spending. Those with income between £10,000 and £25,000 and charitable incorporated organisations with an income under £25,000 will need to answer a number of questions; whilst all charities with income over £25,000 will also need to upload PDFs of their trustee annual report, accounts and independent examiner’s report. Charities with income over £1 million or gross assets over 3.26 million and income over £250,000 will need to submit their annual report and accounts following a full audit.

What questions will be asked? A full range of questions can be found as a download on the Government’s guidance website. In general these relate to areas such as fundraising, the receipt of grants, overseas receipts and expenditure, trustees and employees.

Thompson Jenner Partner Dave Tucker said “As the Charity Commission highlighted, the provision of timely and accurate returns is a key element of the relationship which charities have with volunteers and donors. Thompson Jenner can work with charities both in the preparation of accounts and in providing guidance in respect of the annual report.”

Why not give our Charities and Not for Profit team a call on 01392 258553 or 01395 279521  to find out how best you can benefit from our Charities accounting services.

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