How to choose a memorable name for your charity

The Charity Commission has a useful guide on what you can and cannot do when choosing a name for your charity that people will remember when, for example, they’re looking to volunteer or make a donation.

Here’s some that we’ve come across:

o The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation;
o The Pinky Swear Foundation; 
o Syndromes Without A Name; and
o Parrot Line.

The White Fuse Media website also provides a useful step-by-step guide on how to choose a charity name, while BNG Business has a Charity and Non-Profit Business Name Generator (you’ll need to click past the pop-ups!).

Here what the Charity Commission advises: 

1. Main charity name

This is your official charity name.

Your charity name must not:

  • be the same as or similar to another charity
  • use words you do not have permission to use, such as trademarks or famous names
  • contain anything offensive
  • be misleading, for example suggesting the charity does something that it does not
  • break intellectual property rules

Check the names of registered charities for words you want to use. Search the internet to check other charities and organisations.

The Charity Commission will make you change a name that is not suitable.

The Charity Commission cannot guarantee, reserve or suggest a name.

2. Working or alternative charity name

As well as your main charity name, you can use:

  • abbreviations or acronyms, for example the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children uses NSPCC
  • alternative names, for example Comic Relief is a working name for Charity Projects

You must tell the Charity Commission about any working or alternative name your charity uses.

3. Names with non-English words

You must tell the Charity Commission the meaning of any non-English words in your charity name if you apply to register.

4. Words you need permission to use

You need evidence that you have permission to use:

  • any name of a famous person or character
  • the name of a famous or copyrighted work, such as a book or a piece of music
  • trademarks, such as Olympic or Paralympic
  • ‘Royal’ words, such as King, Queen, Prince, her or his Majesty, Windsor

5. Sensitive words in names of charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs)

If your organisation is a CIO, you need Companies House to approve the use of certain words in your name.

You do not need Companies House approval if the only sensitive words in yourCIO name are:

  • charity
  • charitable
  • association
  • foundation
  • trust

Read Companies House guidance on sensitive words.

If you’re not sure about a word (such as using ‘bank’ in the name of a food bank), contact Companies House.

6. Get approval for sensitive words

Email enquiries@companieshouse.gov.uk. Use ‘CIO’ in the subject line and explain why you want to use the word.

If you have sensitive words in your name, you cannot register with the Charity Commission as a CIO without Companies House approval. You also need approval to change a CIO name to include a sensitive word.

You may need another government department or other body to confirm they do not object to your name. If you do, send that to Companies House when you ask for approval for your name.

7. Charitable company names

‘Charity’, ‘charity’s’, ‘charities’ and ‘charitable’ are sensitive words.

You can use these in the name of a charitable company but need approval from the Charity Commission before you can also register with Companies House.

When you apply to register as a charity let the Charity Commission know that you want a ‘statement of non-objection’.

If your company can be a charity the Charity Commission will give you the statement saying you can use the sensitive words.