Not-for-Profits programme: Eligibility criteria

Where LawWorks can help

The LawWorks Not-for-Profits Programme helps small not-for-profit organisations whose ultimate beneficiaries are predominantly vulnerable or disadvantaged people in England and Wales.

Improving equality, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to assisting vulnerable or disadvantaged people and ending all forms of discrimination and prejudice, including institutional racism and other barriers to inclusion, as they are to LawWorks and access to justice.  They are therefore key to the Not-for-Profits Programme and the way that we assess applicants’ eligibility.  We will take into account the not-for-profit organisation’s stated commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, or to improving its practice in this area.

Before applying to LawWorks, please review our eligibility criteria by clicking into the boxes below:


Which types of organisation can LawWorks assist?

We only provide assistance to not-for-profit organisations, including but not limited to:

  • Charitable companies limited by guarantee;
  • Community interest companies (CICs);
  • Charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs); and
  • Unincorporated associations.

Is your organisation financially eligible? 

The not-for-profit organisation must be unable to afford legal advice, which we assess as follows: 

If the organisation’s annual income is less than £500,000 LawWorks will presume an inability to pay, but will still require documentary evidence of the organisation’s annual income, such as accounts or a spreadsheet detailing the financial year. 

If the organisation’s income is over this £500,000 threshold, LawWorks will consider the application if it includes information as to why the organisation is unable to afford legal advice. 

LawWorks is unlikely to approve the application if the income is in excess of £1,000,000.


Who are your beneficiaries or service users?

LawWorks assesses an organisation’s eligibility primarily on the basis of its beneficiaries: the individuals it helps and the way it helps them.  The ultimate beneficiaries of the not-for-profit organisations should be predominantly vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals.

Organisations will generally be eligible for help if they provide activities like the following illustrative examples:

  • Working with the homeless;
  • Helping children or young people at risk;
  • Improving the employability of current and/or ex-offenders;
  • Supporting people with physical or mental disabilities or health conditions;
  • Working with refugees or asylum seekers;
  • Responding to the discrimination of people of a specific group;
  • Working with people affected by poverty and/or living in deprived neighbourhoods;
  • Providing community support to isolated older people;
  • Advising or providing educational services to people at risk of exploitation; or
  • Improving access to justice.

Application forms should include as much information and examples as possible, to show how the organisation meets these criteria.  


Which areas of law can our volunteers advise on?

Our volunteers can advise eligible organisations on:

  • Intellectual property;
  • Employment;
  • Property;
  • Tax;
  • Commercial/contract;
  • Insurance;
  • Insolvency;
  • Data protection;
  • Defamation; 
  • Company law; and 
  • Amending or updating existing articles.

Which areas of law are we unable to assist with?

Unfortunately our volunteers are not experts in and therefore cannot assist with:

  • Criminal law;
  • Family law;
  • Immigration law;
  • Safeguarding;
  • Internal disputes e.g. between a charity and its trustees;
  • Ongoing advice throughout a dispute;
  • Complaints about a charity; and
  • Specialist charity law matters.*

* "Specialist charity law matters" include: charity asset transfers, choosing a not-for-profit structure, setting it up, or registering with the Charity Commission. You may want to try another resource for such help or, for the latter, consider our Charity Registration Pilot

Where LawWorks cannot help

For policy reasons we are unfortunately unable to accept applications from:

  • Animal welfare organisations;
  • Organisations predominantly focussed on benefitting communities outside England and Wales;
  • Professional/trade associations;
  • Housing/residents' associations; and
  • Organisations whose primary purpose or activity is campaigning or lobbying.

If your organisation is one of the above, we recommend browsing our alternate resources.

Examples of accepted and rejected applications

See below a (non-exhaustive, anonymised) list of the types of organisation that apply to the Not-for-Profits Programme. For each category, we have given a worked example of applications that were accepted and those that were rejected. We set out the rationale behind either accepting or rejecting the applications, in line with the Programme's eligibility criteria.

Contacting us

For capacity reasons we are unable to respond to email queries regarding eligibility.  If you are not certain if your organisation qualifies for free legal assistance please apply and we will work with you to determine your eligibility.

If you have any other questions, please contact us at: