To be a charity an organisation must have purposes or ('aims') all of which are exclusively charitable; a charity cannot have some purposes which are charitable and others which are not.
The Charities Act 2011 defines a charitable purpose, explicitly, as one that falls within the following list of thirteen descriptions of purposes and is for the public benefit
The pages listed above brings together our guidance, reports, key decisions and other resources that help explain the scope of each of these descriptions of purposes and the sorts of charitable activity that might fall within each one.
The list of ‘descriptions of purposes’ in the Charities Act 2011 describe broad areas of potentially charitable activity.
Each item listed is a description or "head" of charity rather than a fully-stated charitable purpose in itself. Under each of the descriptions lie a range of purposes, all of which fit the description, but each of which is a different purpose in its own right. The list of descriptions, taken as a whole with the purposes that underlie each description, encompasses everything that has, or may be, recognised as charitable in England and Wales.
There is no automatic presumption that an organisation with a stated aim that falls within one of the descriptions of purposes is charitable. To be a 'charitable purpose' it must be for the public benefit. This has to be demonstrated in each case.
In some cases, a charity may wish to adopt the wording of one of the descriptions of purposes as its stated aim. That may be acceptable where it is clear that what is being advanced is a charitable purpose for the public benefit. However, in many cases, the wording used in these broad descriptions of purposes can have more than one meaning, and not all of those meanings are purposes that the law has recognised as charitable. In some cases, the wording used may not make it sufficiently clear what the organisation has been set up to do. Where that is the case, further clarification may need to be added to ensure that the purpose that is to be advanced is one that is exclusively, and unambiguously, charitable. We will consider each case on its own merits.
Consideration of an application for charitable status by an organisation with objects to promote general charitable purposes by (1) the provision of beneficial loans and guarantees to charities and for charitable projects and by obtaining loans and taking deposits from the public and (2) promoting the efficiency and effective application of charitable resources by charities and for charitable purposes by the provision of financial advice and assistance and (3) advancing other charitable purposes.
View full document
The Review of the Register of Charities (RR1)
This publication gives the background to the Charity Commission's Review of the Register of Charities programme which it conducted a few years ago, and which gave rise to the recognition by the Commission of a number of new charitable purposes, many of which were later included in the list of descriptions of purposes in the Charities Act 2011, and our 'RR' series of publications.
This guidance sets out those characteristics that determine the charitable status of an organisation.
HTML | PDF -English | PDF - Welsh
Maintenance of an Accurate Register of Charities (RR6)
This guidance summarises the steps the Commission will take, and the reasons for those steps, when it becomes clear that the Register of Charities is not an accurate record of those institutions which have charitable status and which ought to be on the Register.
HTML | PDF - English | PDF - Welsh
The Independence of Charities from the State (RR7)
This guidance summarises the Charity Commission's views about the extent to which charities are required by law to be independent of the State.
Trafford Community Leisure Trust ("TCLT") and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust ("WLCT")
Review of two separate decisions regarding applications for charitable status from TCLT and WLCT. Both organisations were responsible for the culture, leisure and associated services previously operated by Trafford Borough Council and Wigan Council respectively. The two principal legal issues were (i) whether TCLT and WLCT were sufficiently independent from the respective local authorities; and (ii) the extent to which TCLT and WLCT could be charities if they were established to carry out statutory duties imposed on the respective local authorities. The Commissioners concluded that both TCLT and WLCT should be registered as charities.
© 2012 Crown Copyright Copyright Notice | Disclaimer and Privacy Statement | Cookies