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 Your rules and the Charities Act

The Commission does not require specific wording in your rules to consider your organisation charitable. But we must be satisfied that your organisation meets certain criteria.

To be considered for registration as a charitable entity, you need to send us a copy of your rules  with your application form. Your organisation’s rules are the document or documents that set out its purposes, what it does, and how it operates. They may be your governing document, constitution, trust deed, charter, or an Act of Parliament (if your organisation was specifically set up under one).

The Charities Act 2005 allows a range of organisations to apply for registration. In many cases, these organisations also have to comply with other legal requirements relating to their rules. This will be the case if they are registered under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 or the Companies Act 1993.

When you apply for registration under the Charities Act, we read your rules to identify whether you have a “charitable purpose”. “Charitable purpose” as defined in section 5(1) of the Charities Act includes: “. . . every charitable purpose, whether it relates to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, or any other matter beneficial to the community.” Refer to our guidance on charitable purpose for more details about this.

The Commission does not require specific wording in your rules. However, we must be satisfied that your organisation:

  • has a charitable purpose that falls within one of the four purposes set  out in section 5(1) of the Charities Act
  • provides a public benefit and
  • is not carried on for the private pecuniary (financial) benefit or profit of an individual.

See examples of the most common clauses.

 Important Note - If you are an incorporated society, a registered charitable trust, or a company and you wish to make any changes to your rules, you must send these changes to the Companies Office for their approval first.