Although we are a private club, we are registered and constituted as a 'Community Amateur Sports Club' or CASC. This form of incorporation was introduced by the government in 2002 to provide some financial aid to sports clubs.
The chief benefits of being a CASC are that we qualify for up to 80 per cent off our business rates and we have the ability to reclaim tax under gift aid from donations.
In return for these concessions, a CASC must ensure that it is:
1. Open to the whole community
2. Organised on an amateur basis
3. Providing facilities for, and promoting participation in, an eligible sport
The above considerations are not especially onerous, as we have operated along these lines for many years. Adhering to point one does not stop us from refusing membership to certain individuals on reasonable grounds, for example if we thought they would be a disruptive influence, or if we know they have been thrown out of another club for cheating or violent behaviour.
Many other golf clubs are registered as CASCs. The only real drawback is that if the club was to shut down for any reason then the remaining assets would not be redistributed among the members but sold or retained by the government for use by other sports clubs.
As we have no assets to speak of (in particular we don't own our clubhouse) then this is hardly an issue for us. In any case, if we were ever to get into severe financial difficulties we anticipate that we would sell whatever assets we have to try to stave off closure. So there would be nothing left for the government to take anyway.
If you'd like to find out more about CASCs, there is useful further information from HMRC here.