Charity Name Ideas and Checks

Simple, practical charity name ideas, charity name checks, the rules and regulations and how to search for or register a charity name

Charity Name Ideas and Checks

This guide to charity name ideas and name checks includes how to name a charity, search for a charity name, and check and register a company, non profit or charity name, including trademarks, sensitive words and expressions, and trading names, with links to regulatory guidance on names.

Charity Name Ideas

Here are charity name ideas to take into consideration, when deciding on your charity name.

  • Ideally, a great charity name should in some way reflect the values or work of the charity, be emotionally engaging, respectful of those you support, short, memorable and not likely to be confused with another organisation or easily misunderstood.
  • In general, avoid using foreign language, technical expressions or acronyms in a charity name, unless the people you wish to engage will understand these.
  • If your charity name is really long, will it fit on the collection tins or lapel badges, or logo you plan to have?
  • Or if it includes words that really won't be searched for online, you may struggle to be found by potential supporters using an Internet search.  Check the domain name is available and won't clash with an existing one you wouldn't want to be mistaken for.

Having said that, there are many incredibly successful charities which have not followed my advice – except the legal bits, obviously.  If those whom you wish to engage like your choice of name, ignore me.

How to Create Charity Name Ideas

Here is a simple charity name idea prompt for AI.

Please give me 12 charity name ideas for our UK charity that <does what?>, <how?>, <where?>, <for whom> that are short, simple, emotionally engaging and will perform well in organic online searches. It must not be the same or very similar to any other charity or company name, or similar to any well know brand or Trade Mark.

If you don't use AI, you can login, click the AI bunny icon, then his GPT Prompt button and he'll do it for you.  AI is great for creating ideas but makes mistakes, so you should still check your favourite name idea, as outlined below.

Charity Name Checks

Check that your charity name hasn’t been used by another registered charity and is allowable, and you also have to check this with Companies House for company names.  You also need to check with Companies House for sensitive names, including fund, federation, friendly society, and co-operative and anything vaguely Government(ish), regulatory or Royal.  If you use a sensitive name, the Commission may require a letter of non-objection; best avoided, unless it's important to you.

Registered Charity Name Checks

There's a check function in the Charity Commission England & Wales online charity registration application form for your name, but it hasn't always worked for me, so best to do it yourself to be sure. Use the Charity Commission register to search for a charity name.  In Scotland, search using the OSCR charity register and in Northern Ireland use the CCNI charity register.  For companies (including CICs) use the Companies House register search.

Charity Name Check - Google Search

Many charities and non profits are not on a charity regulator register, so the search above may not identify these.  Whilst they may not 'own' their name and your name may not be the same, it's good to make sure that using the charity name you've chosen won't cause any confusion for you and them.  If a tiny charity on the other side of the country has a similar name that probably wouldn't cause any confusion but a big national or small but very local charity might.   Equally, if your name contains very similar key words to the name or someone or something famous, you may find you won't come up in internet searches making you less likely to be found by people who may wish to donate or volunteer.

Charity Name Check - Trademarks

If your name is something that might be trademarked, you may wish to check this here. For example, the Aston Clinton Village Charity for the Destitute isn't likely to have been taken by anyone.  However, more common or commercially valuable names potentially may be.  For example, Golf Charity Cup is trademarked and there are 86 pages of others with 'Charity' in the title.

What are the Charity Name Rules and Regulations?

Your charity’s name must not be the same as or too similar to an existing registered organisation, such as a charity, non profit or company, and may not include anything offensive or be misleading.

Companies House ‘sensitive names' are words and expressions, which, when used in a charity or other company name need approval before the name can be registered or used.

You would need evidence that you have permission to use the name of a famous person or character, famous or copyrighted work, or trademarked or 'Royal' words.  For example, the QPR Supporters Club Charity or the Taylor Swift Fan Club Charity.

How do I Register a Charity Name?

Once you have registered with your charity regulator(s) you will own your charity name. In England and Wales that's the Charity Commission E&W, in Scotland it's OSCR and in Northern Ireland it's CCNI.  Charitable Companies will also register with Companies House.  CICs will register with Companies House and the CIC regulator.  Other non profits may have other regulators, such as the FCA for mutual societies.

Charity Name Versus Trading Name

Your registered charity or company name is your 'official' name and will be on your constitution, certificate of incorporation etc and in the online register with your regulator(s).  However, a charity or company may choose to not trade using this and may use a trading name instead.  You may see this in it's literature, website etc as The Honourable Company of Clowns trading as The Clown Charity.  If you use a trading name, you will need to include this in your charity registration application.

Changing a Charity Name

If you're changing your name rather than creating one for your start-up, here are some things to consider:

  1. Justification.  Changing a charity name comes at a cost and people may ask why.  Ensure that you explain why it is in your charity's best interests - how the benefits make the time and financial cost worthwhile.
  2. Compliance.  Ensure the change complies with regulatory guidance, has been properly approved and is properly recorded - special resolution and in minutes.
  3. Corporate Documents.  Update legal documents such as your constitution, deeds etc and ensure any requirements in these are complied with.  Don't forget any staff contracts.
  4. Regulators.  If you're a company, you'll need to file the change at Companies House by filing a special resolution and form NM01, notify HMRC, your charity regulator and any other regulators.
  5. Contracts and Agreements.  Review all existing ones in case these contain provisions about name changes and notify all parties involved about the change.
  6. Intellectual Property.  If you have and trademarks, and any intellectual property registrations and licences reflect the new company name.
  7. Bank Accounts.  Notify your bank and any other financial institution and update the name on your bank accounts.
  8. Suppliers, Creditors and Funders.  Inform them to avoid any confusion.
  9. Insurance.  Update your insurance to reflect the new charity name.
  10. Licences and Permits.  Up date these.
  11. Branding.  If appropriate, update your brand guidelines and colours, style guides etc.
  12. Stationery. Update your website, social media, any signage and stationery, such as letterheads, business cards, and invoices.
  13. Communications.  Update your staff, beneficiaries and supporters.
  14. Digital.  Update your website and social media content and layouts.  Change your e mail addresses and domain names, if approparite.  Ensure that e mail and URLs have redirects to send traffic to your new e mail addresses and domain.

Charity Names Regulatory Guidance

Charity Commission E&W

OSCR (Scotland) - charity law - objectionable names.

CCNI (Northern Ireland) - changing your charity's name.

Companies House

UK Intellectual Property Office - search for a trade mark name.

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To access help and resources on anything to do with running a charity, including funding, click the AI Bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen and ask it short questions, including key words.  Register, then login and the in-system AI Bunny is able to write funding bids and download 40+ charity policy templates as well.

This Guide to Charity Names Is Not Professional Advice

This guide to company, non profit and charity names is for general interest only and does not constitute professional legal or financial advice.  I'm neither a lawyer, nor an accountant, so not able to provide this, and I cannot write guidance that covers every charity or eventuality.  I have included links to relevant regulatory guidance, which you must check to ensure that whatever you create reflects correctly your charity’s needs and your obligations.  In using this resource, you accept that I have no responsibility whatsoever from any harm, loss or other detriment that may arise from your use of my work.  If you need professional advice, you must seek this from someone else. To do so, register, then login and use the Help Finder directory to find pro bono support. Everything is free.

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