An interesting point in favour of charity status

A point came up on the SMOFs list today about foreign nationals coming to the UK for conventions and saying that they were planning to volunteer. In recent months, volunteers for similar events to us (in particular, beer festivals) have been denied entry to the country under these circumstances. However, this is in part due to a change in the rules that says “a visitor may undertake incidental volunteering, provided it lasts no more than 30 days in total and is for a charity that is registered with the Charity Commission.” If you try to enter the UK saying you’re planning to volunteer for an event that isn’t for a charity, Immigration now say that you need a work visa (and quite possibly sponsorship).

This would add weight to the argument for a putative Eastercon organisation being a registered charity, if that becomes an option. It’s not clear whether a support organisation that was a charity could provide the labour of foreign volunteers to a convention that it was supporting, but there is at least a basis for argument.

Note that this is just about facilitating the passage of non-EU nationals through immigration. In most cases, non-EU nationals coming to UK conventions are coming to attend the event and only incidentally may end up volunteering for a few hours.

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One thought on “An interesting point in favour of charity status

  1. I looked at this option when I was setting up the Foundation’s charity registration. It wasn’t viable then and I’m not aware of any changes to the legislation since. There are a limited range of activities that a charity can be based on, and getting together for a drink is not one of them. Conventions do undertake some activities eligible that a separate charitable organisation could sponsor but the convention as a whole is not eligible. There is one possible workaround which is to set up a charity with some eligible objective and have that operate the Eastercon as a commercial activity. But the trustees of the charity would be required to operate the charity for the benefit of its charitable purpose and not necessarily in the best interests of the convention. In this model the charity would own the Eastercon service mark and each annual convention would buy a limited license to use it.

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