Charitable settings - legislation and governance

When parents are actively involved in their children’s learning and development, children achieve more. Charitable childcare providers benefit children by closely involving parents in the day-to-day running of the provision, its funding, and its overall management.

Charitable settings are usually managed by a committee of volunteers nominated by the parents, who together form the trustees of the charity, and take the role of the Ofsted ‘registered person’. As well as benefiting children, volunteering offers parents the opportunity to meet other parents, get more involved in the community and widen their social network, update existing skills and learn new ones. This has valuable long term benefits when applying for jobs or undertaking further training.

What are the different types of charity?

It is important to choose the most appropriate charitable structure, whether you are setting up a new charity or are an existing one looking to change its structure. There are three main types: Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs), Unincorporated associations, and Charitable companies.

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation must register with the Charity Commission, whatever its income, but does not need to register with Companies House or follow company law. This structure offers trustees a greater degree of protection from personal liability if the charity is wound up. For these reasons, it is often the preferred choice for childcare providers.

Unincorporated associations only need to register with the Charity Commission if their income is over £5,000 per year, but this structure leaves the trustees personally liable for any costs that the charity is unable to meet.

Charitable company status may be appropriate for larger organisations, with high staffing levels, major contracts or significant property holdings. Registration with the Charity Commission is essential if the charity has an income of over £5,000 per year, and the charity must also comply with the Companies Act.

For a full overview of the different types of charity and the role and responsibilities of trustees, Alliance publication Charity Essentials offers comprehensive practical advice. Alliance members also receive a free e-guide Charitable Incorporated Organisations: Registering a childcare provider as a CIO when they buy Charity Essentials. This supports members to register a new charity as a CIO, or change their existing unincorporated association to a CIO.

Available from our shop, The Complete Guide to Incorporation for Early Years Settings gives more information on registering as a Charitable Company.

What is a governing document?

Charities are required to adopt and follow a governing document which provides a standard set of rules that must be followed.

A copy of the governing document must be provided to the Charity Commission at the time of registration.

The Alliance has developed model governing documents appropriate for each of the three main types of charity structure. These have all been approved by the Charity Commission, and Companies House where appropriate, and are available to childcare providers who are Alliance members – see the Members’ area below.

If you would like further information and advice about charitable structures, please contact our Information Service team who will be happy to help.

For information on the new Tax-free Childcare Scheme starting in 2017, see Financial Planning and Funding Sources

Our Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking statement


We are committed to implementing effective systems to combat slavery and human trafficking.

Organisation structure 

We are a national, educational charity, incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. As the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England, we represents the interests of over 14,000 member settings who deliver care and learning to over 800,000 families every year.

Our supply chain

Our supply chains are primarily limited to the UK and the EEA.

Our policy

Our anti-slavery and anti-human trafficking policy reflects our commitment to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business relationships and to implementing and enforcing effective systems and controls to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place anywhere in our supply chains or our business. 

Due diligence 

As part of our initiative to identify and mitigate risk, we regularly perform appropriate risk based due diligence on all our internal processes, business partners, consortia members and providers of goods and services. 

Our systems:

• Identify and assess potential risk areas in our supply chains.

• Mitigate the risk of slavery and human trafficking occurring in our supply chains.

• Monitor potential risk areas in our supply chains.

• Protect whistle blowers. 

Zero tolerance

We have a zero tolerance policy on slavery and human trafficking. All our contractors and suppliers must comply with our values. We have a rigorous compliance adherence programme in place to ensure that all contracts have warranties of compliance and appropriate due diligence processes. Our in-house compliance team consists of representatives from Legal Services and Human Resources teams who monitor systems to ensure adherence.

On-going training and guidance

To ensure a high level of understanding of the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains and business, we provide training and guidance to Alliance employees on a regular basis.


On an annual basis, we regularly review the implementation of activities outlined above and our effectiveness in preventing breaches of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes our slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 2017. This statement has been approved by the organisation's Board of Directors.

Did you know?

Alliance members receive substantial discounts on all publications and resources from our shop.  Members can buy Charity Essentials for just £11.95, saving £4.00, and receive free access to our exclusive e-guide Charitable Incorporated Organisations

Members' Area