Internal blog post
An exciting future as a Charity

Over the last six months, the Board has considered, along with some volunteers and Members, our strategy and future plans.

Part of the conclusion is that we need to be in a position to raise significantly more money than we do currently, to fund expansion into areas like Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and greater community benefit through access to our facilities, podcasts, broadcasts and training programmes.

As a result, we have decided to apply to the Charities Commission to become a Charity.  This is fairly common among community radio stations, and will give us access to more grant funds and to tax reliefs such as gift aid and business rent relief.  It also marks the start of a new, exciting chapter in the history of our radio station.

The fact that we are able to contemplate this step is as a result of your hard work, putting us in a position where we are respected, well run, well known and have the opportunity to take the next step in benefiting local people.  Thank you.

The current running of the core radio station will be unaffected by this change in status; we will remain committed to real local radio, serving the local area and to giving local people the chance to be part of our output.

To help us with these changes, we have appointed two new Directors to the Company’s Board.  Mike Gray and Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman bring a wealth of relevant experience in the charity sector and from their business backgrounds.  Some of you may know Mike and his previous work as Chair of the Museums and Galleries Trust which raised significant funds for the new Museum and Gallery in St Albans.  Jon is currently the CEO of the Responsible Business Alliance and part of our Drive team of presenters.

Becoming a Charity will result in a clearer and more binding commitment to our purposes and “not for profit” status.

We are now seeking external legal advice on these changes and will refine the proposals between now and late November.

You are invited to join us for a conference call on Tuesday 29th October at 1930 to ask any questions you may have.  The dial in number is 0 333 113 0100 and the access code is 1151980

 

Regards

Nick Hazell, Chairman

Questions

Why do we need to do this? Because we believe that this will allow us to access a greater range of funding and make us more attractive to both business and individual donors because of the tax benefits.
Why does business rate relief matter? Charities benefit from an automatic 80% reduction in business rates on their premises.  If we want to move to larger premises, we would be wasting money as a commercial company.
Why do we need bigger premises? Because today we can’t undertake many of the activities we’d like to which could benefit our wider community, such as various parts of the community coming together to make radio, offering students, older people and people from marginalised parts of the community the change to work together on radio.
Why would people give us more money? Because charities are regulated and held to account for their charitable work.  This gives more assurance to donors than our current “not for profit” status.  Also, businesses and individuals can claim tax relief on donations.
What are our charitable objectives going to be?
  • To advance such charitable purposes (according to the law of England and Wales) as the trustees see fit from time to time in particular but not limited to advancing the education of the public by making grants and awards to provide a range of training, development, volunteering and vocational opportunities for people of all ages and all backgrounds;
  • To promote active volunteering and maximising the participation opportunities for marginalised people within the community;
  • To encourage and advance active citizenship in all sections of the community through the making and presenting of radio programmes with a strong emphasis on local not for profit and creative communities.
  • To provide an outlet for aspiring & established singers & songwriters, musicians, theatres and local arts venues and expressions across a range of artistic disciplines and to promote artists and involvement in the arts;
  • To advance education by providing training for volunteers of all ages, with a particular emphasis on developing the skills, talents and confidence of young people and isolated people;
  • To provide programming output with a view to raising awareness about local issues, family wellbeing, involvement in the community and environmental issues and actions;
  • To promote cultural diversity and community cohesion by providing a right of access to minority and marginalised groups, thereby reflecting the interests and opinions contained within our community.
  • To reach the housebound with a varied programme of broadcasts covering local business / history/ culture/ art/ what’s on

·         To capture social history soundbites

How will we do this? We believe that we undertake almost all of this charitable activity already but gain no benefit from it as a result of our commercial status
What happens next? We will consider input received from Members and from external legal advisers and modify proposals accordingly.  Once the Board has approved the final application to the Charities Commission, we will put the proposal to the Members of the existing Company. Assuming approval, we would expect to submit an application to the Charities Commission during December 2019 and be approved or otherwise by the Charities Commission by the end of May 2020.