Charitable purposes are the most important part of your governing document or constitution. Sometimes they are called your ‘objectives’; the words mean the same. A charity must have one or more of the purposes which have been defined in law. These include things like: relieving poverty, education, religion, protecting the environment, animal welfare, human rights and community development.
This, we promise you, is the trickiest part of the journey to registration. You need to understand the rules and get the language right. This probably means that you will have to spend some time writing, re-drafting, and writing again.
This step you will help you to set out in writing what you want to do as a charity. Your purposes explain:
Before you start, think about the following:
What is your charity set up to achieve? Make sure that the WHAT is an allowed charitable purpose. You can find the full list of the 13 allowed charitable purposes here.
A registered charity must benefit a significant section of the public (or animals). This is called ‘public benefit’. Of course, you can specify which section of the public, like ‘those in poverty’; or ‘children with rare diseases’ (or children with a specific rare disease), or the homeless. And you can specify which animals – elephants or tigers or dogs or cats or a rare breed. The point is, your charity must be open to anyone or any animal that fits the description of your charitable purpose. It must be public and not private.
If your purposes don’t say where you plan to operate, the assumption might be made that it will include the whole world. That might raise questions about your capacity to manage or deliver services on a worldwide basis. It makes better sense to think about the geography in which you will operate: a town, a county, a region, a country. If it is only a local area, it might be helpful to use wording like ‘…anywhere in the district of (enter name of your local authority area) and especially (enter name of locality). This gives you the opportunity to expand at some later stage.
This is about what your charity will DO to tackle the problem of WHAT it was set up to achieve. Try to be as clear as you can without being too restrictive. See the QUICK TIP below.
We suggest that you look at examples before writing your own charitable purposes.
If those Charity Commission options don’t fit with what you want to do, you might find it useful to look at the objects (purposes) of charities that are already registered. You can find charities doing similar things on the Charity Commission website using their advanced search tool. You can use this to narrow down your search by area, activities or classifications, for example. Then, when you have a list of charities to look at:
You can also follow the Charity Commission’s guidance on how to write charitable purposes.
Choosing a name for your charity is the fun part but don’t rush into it. Firstly, there are some rules:
Secondly, you don’t want to make a decision you later regret. You may want to avoid names that are difficult to pronounce; or a name that is patronising to your beneficiaries. Also consider our QUICK TIP below. Take your time!