Using CIO as the legal entity for a Hackspace - please advise

Hello all

We would appreciate advice from those who have used CIO as the vessel for their legal entity.

Did it or does it seem to have been a good thing, or a mistake?

Any disadvantages as you see it - or has it turned out to be a great way of running it?

What charitable aims did you choose as your objective? Educational charity? Other?

We are currently tying to decide whether we should choose CIO as our legal entity, and would appreciate advice from those with actual experience of using it - we can read general advice out there, and deduce the obvious, but there’s nothing like getting advice from those already treading the path and experiencing the reality.

Many Thanks in advance

Nigel B
Basingstoke Makerspace
Please reply here or email me directly using admin at

See also Rory’s response here. I’d agree with the statement that there’s no real advantage to going with a CIO over a company limited by guarantee (CLG) registered as a charity. The big advantage of the latter is that you can start as a CLG and then register as a charity later.

When we tried to register London Hackspace as a charity a few years back, we ran up against the following issues:

  • We were told that registering as a charity with a purpose of “the advancement of education” or “the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science” would not be accepted as we did not have a sufficiently formal educational programme.
  • The Commission suggested we could register under the Recreational Charities Act, but that would have added the fairly severe restriction that “The facilities are provided solely with the object of, and are capable of, on an objective basis, of improving conditions of life.”

Sounds like Create Space had a different experience though, so I’d be interested to hear more from them.

Thank you
That is very useful information. We’d obviously have the same problem with the Charities Commission, as we of course wouldn’t be running formal courses in that sense.
That seems a bit narrow-minded of them, I must say. So very worth knowing.
It rather discourages me from wanting to have anything to do with them, though I strongly feel that Makerspaces and Hackspaces have a huge potential role in adult life-long learning, quite apart from supporting local schools and teachers.
As a STEM ambassador it is frustrating to hear that the charity commission is so narrow in its remit or recognition of education in the community.
Much appreciated info
Nigel B

I’d say it might be worth lobbying MPs eventually to get this changed, but
I’m not sure how hard-coded that idea of structured leaning is in either
caselaw or statue for charities law (charities law is a whole minefield of
its own I’ve been told) - but it certainly could be a long-term goal of the
national org to move that way, and build up those kind of connections.


One thing I will say is that the Charities Commission were very helpful when I was communicating with them, so it could be worth approaching them and saying that you’re applying for a similar purpose as Create Space. As I recall, they were quite unambiguous with me, though.

The actual legislation governing charitable purposes is quite broad, so in my opinion it’s the Commission’s interpretation which is at issue here.

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