How We Are Governed

Charity Model

Biodiversity and Environmental Education Society (BEES) is a registered charity in England and Wales - no.1187828. We are a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) whose only voting members are its charity trustees ('foundation' model constitution).

What is a CIO?

​The Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is a new legal form for a charity. It has been created in response to requests from the charitable sector. It is a new incorporated form of charity which is not a limited company or subject to company regulation. The Charities Act 2011 creates the basic legal framework for the CIO. This framework is completed by regulations:

  • the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (General) Regulations 2012 (‘General Regulations’); and

  • the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Insolvency and Dissolution) Regulations 2012 (‘Dissolution Regulations’)

A CIO is a corporate body (like a company) that can own property, employ staff and enter into other contracts in its own name (rather than in the names of the trustees).

  • Members of a company limited by guarantee have limited liability for its debts if it winds up(they only have to pay a fixed amount). Members of a CIO may either have no liability at all or (like a company) limited liability for its debts.

  • Because they have additional legal protection, members of a corporate body (Company or CIO) must comply with extra regulations.

  • Unlike companies, CIOs do not have to register with Companies House.

  • Unlike companies, CIOs will not be fined for administrative errors like late filing of accounts, but some breaches of the CIO Regulations are legal offences.

  • All CIOs must register with the Commission, regardless of their income. It follows that an exempt charity cannot be a CIO, and CIO may be unsuitable for other types of charity that don’t have to register. 

  • CIOs must produce accounts under charity law, not company law. This allows smaller CIOs (income below £250,000) to produce simpler receipts and payments accounts.

  • To simplify the CIO framework, there is currently no provision for CIOs to issue debentures, or for a register of charges (mortgages etc) over CIO property.


In practice a CIO using the ‘foundation’ model will be like an incorporated charitable trust, run by a small group of people (the charity trustees) who make all key decisions.

Learn more about CIO's from the Charity Commission.


Read our Governing Document

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