1. Osome Blog UK
  2. What Is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)?

What Is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)?

Author Gabi Bellairs-LombardGabi Bellairs-Lombard

7 min read
Better Business

A Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) is a unique legal structure commonly used by non-profit organisations, professional associations, and clubs. Unlike traditional companies, CLGs have no shareholders and distribute surpluses back into the organisation to fulfil social or charitable objectives.

What Is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)?

A company limited by guarantee (CLG) is a non-profit legal structure used by organisations, associations, and clubs without shareholders or share capital.

When running a business, organisation, or company, there are different legal structures. One of these is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG). This article will explore the definition, characteristics, benefits, formation, and governance of a CLG, as well as its financing and income generation. So, let's dive in and discover what a CLG is all about!

Definition and Characteristics of a Company Limited by Guarantee

A Company Limited by Guarantee, also known as a CLG, is a legal structure in the business world. Unlike other company types, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLC) or Public Limited Companies (PLC), a CLG is typically used by non-profit organisations or social enterprises.

What sets a CLG apart is its guarantee structure. Instead of having shareholders who own shares and receive dividends, a CLG has members or guarantors who provide a financial guarantee to cover the company's debts. In the event of the CLG winding up, each member's liability is usually limited to a specific amount, often as low as £1.

CLGs are commonly used by organisations that aim to fulfil a specific purpose, such as charities, clubs, associations, or community groups. Company law regulations govern them, and can operate commercially or non-commercially, depending on their objectives.

Let's delve deeper into the world of CLGs and explore some of the fascinating aspects of this legal structure.

One of the key advantages of a CLG is that it provides a sense of security for its members or guarantors. With limited liability, individuals who contribute their financial guarantee can rest assured that their personal assets will not be at risk if the company faces financial difficulties. This feature makes CLGs attractive for individuals who want to support non-profit organisations without exposing themselves to excessive financial risks.

Furthermore, CLGs often have a democratic structure, allowing members to have a say in decision-making. This democratic approach ensures that the organisation's objectives align with the interests and values of its members. By having a collective voice, members can actively contribute to shaping the direction and activities of the CLG, fostering a sense of ownership and involvement.

Another noteworthy characteristic of CLGs is their ability to access various funding sources. Non-profit organisations often finance their operations through grants, donations, and sponsorships. Being a CLG can enhance their credibility and eligibility for funding opportunities, demonstrating a commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance. This, in turn, can enable CLGs to attract more financial support and expand their impact in the community.

Moreover, CLGs can engage in both commercial and non-commercial activities. While their primary focus might be fulfilling their social mission, CLGs can also undertake commercial ventures to generate revenue. This hybrid approach allows them to diversify their income streams and become more self-sustainable, reducing their reliance on external funding sources.

It is worth noting that CLGs are subject to regulatory requirements and obligations, ensuring that they operate within the legal framework. These obligations include maintaining proper financial records, submitting annual reports, and adhering to relevant legislation. By complying with these regulations, CLGs demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability, building trust with stakeholders and the wider public.

In conclusion, a Company Limited by Guarantee is a unique legal structure that caters to the needs of non-profit organisations and social enterprises. Its guarantee structure, limited liability, democratic approach, and access to funding opportunities make it an attractive option for those aiming to positively impact society. By embracing the CLG model, organisations can confidently pursue their mission, knowing they have a robust legal framework supporting their endeavours.

Key Differences Compared to Other Company Types

When comparing a CLG to other company types, it is important to consider the unique benefits and characteristics that set it apart. One such difference is the emphasis on social or charitable objectives. Unlike traditional companies, CLGs prioritise reinvesting any surpluses into the organisation to further their social or charitable goals. This means that instead of distributing profits to shareholders, a CLG focuses on making a positive impact in its community or chosen field. This distinction is particularly relevant when considering how to set up a limited liability company, as CLGs provide an alternative structure for organisations that prioritise social impact over profit distribution.

Furthermore, the limited liability of members in a CLG offers a distinct advantage over other company types. With liability limited to the amount, the members guarantee, individuals involved in a CLG are not personally responsible for the company's debts beyond their agreed guarantee. This provides a level of protection and peace of mind for members, as they can engage in the activities of the CLG without the fear of being held personally liable for any financial obligations that may arise.

Another notable difference is the absence of shares and share capital in a CLG. Unlike public or private companies, a CLG does not issue shares to raise capital or attract investors. Instead, it operates based on guarantees provided by its members. This unique structure allows a CLG to focus on its mission and objectives without the influence of external shareholders or the pressure to maximise profits for the benefit of individual investors.

In summary, while a CLG shares similarities with other company types regarding legal obligations and governance, it stands out because it emphasises social or charitable objectives, limited liability for members, and the absence of shares and share capital. These key differences make a CLG an attractive option for individuals and organisations looking to make a positive impact while enjoying certain legal protections and operational flexibility.

Benefits and Purposes of Companies Limited by Guarantee

Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG) offer various benefits and serve specific purposes.

Non-profit and charitable organisations

Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG) are commonly utilised by non-profit and charitable organisations. CLGs provide a legal framework for these organisations to manage their activities effectively. By adopting this structure, non-profits and charities can access various benefits such as tax exemptions, eligibility for grants, and enhanced credibility. Furthermore, the liability of members is limited, ensuring that personal assets are protected in the event of financial challenges.

Professional associations and clubs

Professional associations and clubs often opt for the Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) structure. CLGs enable these organisations to establish a legal entity that governs their operations and protects the interests of their members. By adopting a CLG structure, professional associations and clubs can set rules, regulations, and membership criteria. This allows for effective governance, professional standards, and accountability within the organisation.

Limiting Liability and protecting members

One key advantage of a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) is the ability to limit liability and protect the members, which is also a characteristic shared with limited liability partnerships (LLPs). In both CLGs and LLPs, the liability of members is limited to the agreed-upon contribution in case of winding up the company or partnership. This structure provides a safeguard for personal assets and offers financial security. By limiting liability, CLGs and LLPs encourage individuals to participate in the organisation or partnership without the risk of significant personal financial loss.

Formation and Incorporation of Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG)

The formation and incorporation process of a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) involves several essential steps to establish a legally recognised entity.

Choosing a suitable name

When forming a CLG, choosing a suitable name is important. The name should align with the organisation's purpose and be unique to avoid conflicts with existing companies. It is advisable to thoroughly search existing business names to ensure availability and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Meeting the incorporation requirements

To incorporate a CLG, certain requirements must be met. This includes preparing the necessary incorporation documents, such as the memorandum and articles of association, which outline the organisation's purpose, structure, and governance. Additionally, the company must have a registered office address and appoint at least one director.

Drafting the Articles of Association

The articles of association are vital to a CLG. These documents outline the rules and regulations that govern the organisation. It is essential to carefully draft the articles to address matters such as membership, decision-making processes, and the distribution of assets in the event of dissolution.

Directors, Members, and Governance

Directors, members, and governance play crucial roles in the functioning of a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG).

Roles and responsibilities of directors

Directors' duties involve the overall management and decision-making of a CLG. They are legally obligated to act in the organisation's and its members' best interests. Directors play a vital role in setting strategic direction, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, and maintaining financial stability.

Membership structure and decision-making

A CLG typically has members who contribute to the organisation's objectives and have voting rights in decision-making processes. The membership structure and rights can vary based on the organisation's articles of association. Decision-making often involves the election of directors, approval of major decisions, and amendments to the articles.

CLGs have legal obligations to meet, including the regular filing of financial statements, annual returns, and adherence to regulatory requirements. Compliance with these obligations ensures transparency and accountability and maintains the organisation's legal status. CLGS must have robust governance mechanisms to fulfil these obligations effectively.

Financing and Income Generation

Like any organisation, CLGs need financing to fulfil their objectives.

While they may not aim to generate profits for distribution, they still require funds to cover their operating costs and achieve their social or charitable purposes.

CLGs can obtain funding through various sources, including donations, grants, fundraising events, and partnerships. These funds can finance projects, support operational expenses, or invest in the organisation's development.

Additionally, some CLGs may generate income through activities that align with their mission. For example, a charity CLG may create merchandise related to their cause and sell it to supporters, with the proceeds going towards their charitable initiatives. However, it's important for CLGs to ensure that any income-generating activities do not compromise their non-profit status or charitable objectives.


In conclusion, a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) is a legal structure commonly used by non-profit organisations and social enterprises. It differs from other company types due to its guarantee structure, limited liability for members, and reinvestment of surpluses into fulfilling social or charitable objectives. For more guidance on the company type for you, our experts can help. Schedule a call with us today!

Share this post:

Tips to run your business smarter. Delivered to you monthly.

By clicking, you agree to our Terms & Conditions , Privacy and Data Protection Policy

Related Articles

  • Good News for Small Businesses in 2024 as the VAT Registration Threshold Increases
    Money Talk

    Good News for Small Businesses in 2024 as the VAT Registration Threshold Increases

    UK Chancellor delivered some good news for small businesses in the 2024 Spring Budget Speech. A lower VAT registration threshold will allow hundreds of businesses room to breathe. Read the Osome article for more.

    ·2 min read
  • Change Accountants for Your UK Business in 3 Easy Steps
    Better Business

    Change Accountants for Your UK Business in 3 Easy Steps

    Change accountants in just three simple steps so that your UK business gets the best accounting services. Let’s go through the main points in this post.

    ·4 min read
  • Financial Forecasting as a New Business
    Money Talk

    Financial Forecasting as a New Business

    Unleash the true potential of your startup with financial forecasting. You can drive success with reliable insights. Attracting investors becomes easier when you clearly understand your financial projections. Visit Osome today to access the tools to empower your startup's financial future.

    ·6 min read
  • What Is A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) Number and How To Get One?
    Better Business

    What Is A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) Number and How To Get One?

    Learn about the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, its importance for tax management in the UK, and the steps to get one. Also, find out how to recover a lost UTR and understand its role for both individuals and companies.

    ·8 min read
  • Trading Name: Definition and Distinction From Company Name
    Better Business

    Trading Name: Definition and Distinction From Company Name

    Grasping the distinction between a trading name and company name is crucial for businesses. Explore the unique characteristics, legal implications, and marketing potentials of a trading name, and learn how to leverage its advantages without compromising legal standing.

    ·6 min read

Tips to run your business smarter. Delivered to you monthly.

We’re using cookies! What does it mean?