Setting up a County Trust

It is not difficult to set up a trust and many VCH counties have already done so, including Cornwall, Derbyshire, Durham, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire.

The trust needs to be registered as a charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. The Commission provide, free of charge, a 40 page A4 booklet, entitled Registering as a Charity.

Some suggestions as to what you will need to take into consideration before registering are:

  • Objective: first and most important is the object of the trust. The trust must fit the purposes defined by the Charities Act of 2006, which include the advancement of education and heritage, which are clearly in line with the goals of the VCH.
  • Name: The name is important. Our trusts have found the following title useful: [County] Victoria County History Trust. This also allows for individuality for the specific county while tying into a brand name for consistency and recognition.
  • Governing Document: All charities need a governing document, setting out how the charity’s income will be spent, how trustees will be appointed and how the charity will operate. VCH Trusts usually have a Trust Deed. Brief guidance is given in Annex A of the booklet. The Charity Commission gives further information in Choosing and Preparing a Governing Document (form CC22).
  • Trustees: Trustees are responsible for “the general control and management of the administration of the charity”. The booklet covers who can act as a trustee, the qualities needed, principles to guide them, and liabilities. A wider range of guidance for trustees was issued with Trustee Recruitment, Selection and Induction (form RSI) which can be obtained from the Commission.
  • Reporting: registered charities with an annual income or expenditure over £10,000 must provide annual information and accounts to the Commission.

The Charity Commission will provide copies of a model Trust Deed (form GD2), free of charge, available at each of their offices or from the website. Following the model as closely as possible is likely to speed the registration process, for which the Commission requires an application and a declaration by the trustees, each on a form provided by the Commission, together with two certified copies of the governing document and a certified copy of the minutes of the general meeting at which it was adopted.

The Commission also provides a wide range of advice and guidance to charities and their Trustees, and can help with problems. Many of our VCH County Trusts have commented that they have been very helpful.

Further information can be obtained from the Commission by visiting their website, or by contacting the Charity Commission direct at:

Telephone:   0845.300.0218


Or write to:

Charity Commission Direct
PO Box 1227
Liverpool L69 3UG