Lunar Society to apply for charitable status

The Lunar Society is progressing an application to become a registered charity as part of a number of changes to further the aims of the Society.

Approval to a change to charitable status was approved at the 2013 AGM but for a variety of reasons, had not been implemented.

Speaking at the Society’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, July 19, Alan Wenban-Smith, Chairman, said that the Society’s work and role fulfils the requirement of a Charity as “existing to benefit the public”, and the Executive had concluded that the time was now right for an application to the Charities Commission to give effect to this change. This would bring a number of benefits to the Society including the ability to claim back tax (Gift Aid) on subscriptions and donations and such items as bank interest and to apply for grants and funding. In view of the Society’s financial situation the Executive now regarded this as urgent.

The Executive had determined that the Lunar Society could become a Charitable Trust without changing its basic aims, methods or structures. However it would require substantial additions to the existing constitution to meet the requirements of Charity law regarding the handling of income and property, and the duties and obligations of the Executive (who would become Trustees). The present constitution (with very minor changes) would become Part 1 of a new constitution, while Parts 2 and 3 would deal with the necessary additions. These changes had been circulated in advance to all members, and were approved by the AGM.

The Chairman thanked co-opted executive committee member Mukesh Murria who had undertaken the very substantial amount of work to bring these elements together into a single document, and had agreed to complete the registration without charge.

In addition, the Chairman announced that the Executive proposed to change the membership categories with existing full members being designated Fellows, at their present subscription level. A new membership category would be introduced at a lower cost in order to widen reach and attract additional supporters. Fellows would enjoy significant benefits over and above those of ordinary members.

Again, the proposal was welcomed by the members at the AGM as a means of furthering the Society’s aims. The details will be decided by the Executive at their September meeting.

The application for charitable status and the new membership categories are intended to enable the Society to widen its influence and attract further support.

“Like many organisations, we face challenges but after an in depth review, the Executive has concluded that these recommendations will enable the Society to have a more secure future and increase the contribution we make to society as a whole,” said Mr Wenban-Smith.

the Society will be able to maximise its educational public benefit, enhance its reputation and benefit from the financial advantages that being a charitable trust will bring