How to Generate and Document Suitable Charitable Purposes

28 November 2017

Practice Area: Charity Law
Sector: Not for Profit


Hints and Tips on generating and documenting suitable charitable purposes:

  • Be specific
  • Keep to charitable purposes (there are 12 specific charitable purposes are set out in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008). It is not possible to state that you wish to do anything that isn’t exclusively charitable
  • Make sure your charity’s purpose is clear and easily understood – a lack of clarity may mean The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland won’t be able to accept that the purpose is charitable
  • Be precise
  • Use plain, simple language to express your charity’s purpose
  • Avoid the use of terms that are not widely understood or which may have ambiguous or diverse applications
  • Include all your charity’s purposes, if there are several
  • Use standard ‘charitable’ terminology, where possible. For example: consider the use of the following phrases “to advance…” “to promote ….” “to provide…” or “to relieve…”
  • Consider listing specific ways your charity will achieves its desired outcome but be careful not to unnecessarily restrict the charity’s activities
  • Consider whether the purpose should be restricted to a certain type of individual (for example, children/elderly, individuals in a certain location or with certain defining characteristics), again, be careful not to unnecessarily restrict the charity’s activities
  • Ensure you can meet the public benefit test – any statement of public benefit should be clear and concise, easily understood by beneficiaries, potential donors and members of the public.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has provided specific guidance including guidance on acceptable purposes, which can be accessed here:

If you would like any further information or advice, please do not hesitate to contact Naomi Gaston or one of the other members of the Charity Law Team at Carson McDowell.