Updated approach to assessing applications from organisations promoting complementary and alternative therapies

We have concluded our review of charitable status and the promotion of complementary and alternative therapies


The Charity Commission has concluded an in-depth review of its approach to assessing the charitable status of organisations which use or promote complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

The review included an extensive public consultation, to which we received around 670 individual responses. A report on the consultation responses was published in December 2017.

We are grateful to all those who took part in the consultation and contributed to the review.

Our review concluded that the underlying legal principles around charitable status and the promotion of CAM remain unchanged. However, as a result of the review, we are updating our approach to assessing the charitable status of CAM organisations. That approach is reflected in revised internal guidance, published today.

We have also published a report setting out the outcome of the review.

Our guidance is now clearer that CAM organisations applying to register as charities will need to provide evidence that matches the claims that they make in order to demonstrate that they provide public benefit:

  • those organisations that claim to treat or cure a disease or condition will need to provide appropriate scientific evidence.

  • those organisations that instead claim to provide comfort and relief to patients, may be able to rely on other types of evidence, such as reports by patients, or observational studies based on patient responses, to demonstrate their public benefit.

The updated guidance will reduce the risk of CAM organisations that cannot evidence the claims they make benefiting from charitable status.

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