Setting up a new baby bank

This page will provide guidance on what you will need to consider as you formalise your initial plan and start to grow your baby bank.

Choose your team: Your trustees or management committee, your volunteers.
Note: you will need at least 3 separate, unrelated trustees.

Write your constitution or governing document. You can still be a constituted group and apply for grants and funding before deciding on a structure for your organisation, e.g. a charity (CIO) or a social enterprise (CIC).

Constituted group

If you are not raising a lot of funds, or you are part of another organisation such as a church, you may wish to write a constitution for your baby bank and remain a constitued group rather than a formal entity.

This constitution will allow you to apply for some grants, as long as you fulfil the criteria around having a separate bank account and signatories on that account.

CIO: Charitable Incorporated Organisation

CIOs have been designed specifically for charitable groups, allowing them to register just once with the Charity Commission as an incorporated form of charity which is not a company. This cuts out the need to register with and report to Companies House.

In addition to this, a CIO has its own legal personality and so can enter into contracts in its own right rather than in the name of individual trustees. Trustees will also have limited liability.

Organisations can register as a CIO at any point, but it becomes mandatory to register as either CIO or CIC after £5,000 is earned in a financial year.

CIC: Community Interest Charity

CIC structures are designed for social enterprises or not-for-profit projects. These organisations are structured like a normal limited company, limited by shares or by guarantee. Setting up a CIC is pretty straightforward and inexpensive.

When you start, the CIC Regulator must be satisfied that your constitution satisfies the ‘community interest test’: in other words, your activities must clearly aim to benefit the community, avoid political campaigning and never aim to benefit directors of the company.

As a minimum the baby bank should consider creating policies on the following:

  • Safeguarding
  • Health and Safety
  • Volunteering
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Fire Safety
  • Complaints
  • GDPR / Data storage

At some point you will need to consider insurance. As a minimum, Public Liability Insurance is a good starting point. There are specialist insurers like Third Sector Insurance who can build you a specific policy, and a lot of baby banks use Zurich; a local insurance broker may be able to point you in the right direction. Consider if you need:

  • Trustee Insurance
  • Vehicle Insurance
  • Contents Insurance
  • Theft of cash
  • Buildings Insurance
  • Employer Insurance

Consider how your baby bank will identify service users in your community. Think about how you can connect with existing services and support that families may already be accessing.

Will your baby bank provide self-referrals or professional referrals only?

This might be a good time to start thinking about where you will advertise your baby bank to start finding families.

  • Health Visitors
  • Midwives
  • Schools
  • Food Banks
  • Local council resettlement team
  • Homelessness Teams
  • Benefits Team
  • Churches
  • Voluntary Agencies
  • Other Baby Banks – do you know who is nearby?
  • Welfare

To sustain your baby bank, you will need to access to funds to pay for storage, staffing, and purchasing certain items.

It is helpful to first set out the running costs for your baby bank and create a budget.

Once you have written a constitution and opened your Bank Account you can apply to grant funders. A good place to find these can be your local Voluntary and Community Sector organization or funding websites such as Charity Grant Funders.

You can see the annual accounts of other baby banks and find out who has funded them via the Charity Commission, or sometimes via individual baby bank websites.

You can also:

  • Register with your local supermarket for donation days, collection trolleys or bins instore
  • Ask people to raise money for you; perhaps the company they work for offers matched donations
  • Sell items to raise money; if you choose to do this, make sure you have the donor’s permission
  • Use ‘GoFundMe’ or ‘Crowdfunder’ online platforms for fundraising; they are especially important if you receive any media coverage.

Some baby banks create pre-packed bundles which they can supply to families. It’s important to make sure you have enough items to go around, and it may help to make a checklist of what you want to pack as standard.

  1. A maternity pack for hospital/new mums could contain nappies, wipes, cotton wool,maternity towels, baby shampoo, baby wash, baby moisturiser, and nappy cream.
  2. A clothing bundle could contain 5 vests, 3 baby grows, 5 outfits, 2 jumpers and a coat

Think about how you can prepack which may save you time:

  • Could you tie blankets together in small groups?
  • What will you deliver these items in? (Note: don’t use your moses basket, it’s likely to snap the handles).
  • If you don’t wish to prepack, think about how best to store items so you can quickly and easily access them. E.g. Labelled storage boxes or bags
  • Will you deliver these? Will you ask professional referrers to collect?
  • Will you need a van or a large car?
  • Will your volunteers use their own vehicle covered by their own insurance to collect items?
  • Will you reimburse mileage costs?

Baby banks do not always accept every donated item. Below is a list of common items that are often refused:

  • Electrical items such as Perfect Prep machines, baby monitors, sterilisers, or anything that needs PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing)
  • Cot bumpers
  • Car seats
  • Homemade cardigans and blankets that are made out of natural wool and have no labels
  • Used bottles or teats
  • Used safety gates

Protecting your Client’s Privacy

During the process of making up your family’s referral and delivering the items, it is important to remember that you are holding a lot of personal information about your clients.

  • Don’t leave referral forms in plain view inside the baby bank: always store these securely
  • Don’t allow unauthorised access to the referral: consider if a volunteer or staff member could make up the referral without seeing all of the information
  • Make sure that IT access is limited appropriately and that secure passwords are used
  • Paperwork should not be left in a vehicle after delivery, but should be returned to the baby bank to be stored securely
  • Family members or friends should not make deliveries with or instead of a member of the baby banks team