FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
What is a charity?
If you operate in the Republic of Ireland, have a charitable purpose only and provide public benefit then you are a charity. The Charities Act, 2009 requires all charities to register with the Charities Regulator.
Charitable purposes are:
- the prevention or relief of poverty or economic hardship;
- the advancement of education;
- the advancement of religion;
- any other purpose that is of benefit to the community. ‘Purpose that is of benefit to the community’ includes: integration of the disadvantaged; the promotion of health and voluntary work; the advancement of community welfare and development, advancement of environmental sustainability, promotion of religious or racial harmony, advancement of conflict resolution, the prevention or relief of suffering of animals, advancement of sciences and the arts.’
A charitable purpose must be of public benefit, which means that it must be beneficial in an identifiable way to the general public or a section of the public. To assess if your organisation provides a public benefit, you should consider what it does or plans to do to achieve its core aims. The questions you should ask are who is my organisation helping and who will benefit from our work?
For example, fundraising to cover the medical bills for one individual does not provide a public benefit, as it benefits only one individual. However, fundraising for the purpose of paying the medical bills of a class of persons who have the same or similar illness would meet the criteria of providing a benefit to the public, even though within that class some individuals are selected to benefit. The charity must select on the basis of objective criteria which do not depend on a connection between the individual and the charity.
As charities can provide public benefit in many different ways, and in differing amounts, there is no minimum amount of benefit that must be provided. In fact, many charities operate on a small scale or in small communities but are still able to show that they provide public benefit to the community. If your organisation does not provide public benefit, then it does not qualify for charitable status.
There may be some organisations that are not certain if they are charities, or don’t think of themselves as charities. Nevertheless, if they meet the conditions above then they need to register.
There are some exceptions. For example, organisations established solely for the promotion of athletic or amateur games or sports, trade unions, political parties and chambers of commerce are not charities.
Any organisation that is unsure if they need to register should contact the Charities Regulator.
What is the Charities Act?
The Charities Act, 2009 is the most recent piece of charity legislation in Ireland. Its core objectives are to provide for the better regulation of charitable organisations, as well as the establishment of the Charities Regulator.
There are a number of powers under the act regarding the regulation and protection of charitable organisations and charitable trusts. These core powers include establishing a public Register of Charities and allowing for investigations to take place into alleged wrongdoing.
The full text of the Charities Act, 2009 is available here:
What is the Register of Charities?
The Register of Charities is where the public can find a list of all charities registered and regulated in the State. The Register of Charities can be viewed here.
What is a CHY Number?
A CHY number is the number allocated by the Revenue Commissioners to charities to whom they have granted charitable tax exemption.
It is NOT the same as a Registered Charity Number (RCN), which is assigned to charities by the Charities Regulator once charitable status has been awarded.
What is a Registered Charity Number (RCN)?
A Registered Charity Number (RCN) is a number assigned to charities by the Charities Regulator once charitable status has been awarded.
Registration with the Charities Regulator and having a Registered Charity Number (RCN) is separate to having a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners.
In principle, an organisation should apply first to the Charities Regulator for inclusion on the Register of Charities. If the organisation is awarded charitable status it will receive an RCN. If it chooses, it may then apply to the Revenue Commissioners for charitable tax exemption. If charitable tax exemption is granted, then the organisation will also receive a CHY number.
Who are the charity trustees of a charity?
The expression “charity trustees” is an umbrella term for the people who ultimately exercise control over - and are legally responsible for - the management of a charity. Charity trustees must act in the best interests of the charity.
The exact title in each charity may be different depending on its legal structure, so for example:
- If the charity is a company, the charity trustees are the directors and other officers of the company.
- If the charity is an unincorporated body or a corporate body (other than a company) the charity trustees are any officers or people acting officially in the management and control of the organisation, such as members of the board of management or executive committee.
- If the charity has been established under a trust deed, the charity trustees are the trustees specified by the trust deed.
If you are unsure as to whether you are a charity trustee or not, then it is important that you check the legal structure of your charity to clarify your position.
What are the key duties of a charity trustee?
1. Charity trustees must comply with the charity’s governing document.
This means that you must make sure that you have read and comply with the governing document of your charity (e.g. a constitution or deed of trust) and that you understand the charitable purpose of the organisation, the public benefit that it is providing and the extent of your powers and duties as a charity trustee.
2. Charity trustees must ensure that the charity is carrying out its charitable purposes for the public benefit.
This means that you must ensure that your charity’s activities advance the charitable purpose(s) only and that those purposes are beneficial to the public, or a section of the public. Any personal benefit that ensues must be ancillary to, and necessary for, the furtherance of the public benefit.
3. Charity trustees must ensure that the charity is registered on the Charities Regulator’s Register of Charities.
This means that it is your responsibility to ensure that your charity is registered with the Charities Regulator. You must keep your details up to date with us.
4. Charity trustees must ensure that the charity keeps proper books of account.
This means that you must make sure that your charity keeps proper books of account for the charity, with entries from day to day of all money received and paid out by your charity. A record of the assets and liabilities of your charity must also be maintained.
5. Charity trustees must ensure that the charity provides an annual report and annual accounts to the Charities Regulator.
This means that you must make sure that your charity submits an annual report to the Charities Regulator regarding your activities in the last financial year. This annual report is due within ten months after the end of each financial year and should also include the financial accounts of your charity.
How do I raise a concern about a charity?
If you wish to raise a concern about a charity you can contact us at email@example.com or on our dedicated Concerns phone line: 01-633 1550.
Can I visit the Charities Regulator's offices?
Visiting the Charities Regulator's office is by appointment only. If you wish to request an appointment, please apply via the link below outlining the reason for your request.
Who has to register?
All charities operating in the Republic of Ireland must be registered on the Register of Charities. It is an offence for an unregistered charitable organisation to carry on activities in the State.
Registration procedures vary slightly depending on the circumstances of your organisation:
- If your organisation was established before 16th October 2014 and held a CHY number (charitable tax exemption) from the Revenue Commissioners then click here.
- If your organisation was established before 16th October 2014 but did not have a CHY number (charitable tax exemption) from the Revenue Commissioners then click here.
- If your organisation was established after 16th October 2014 then click here.
What are our organisation’s ‘Charitable Object(s)'?
The ‘Charitable Object(s)’ entered in the relevant free-text box of your application form should be identical to the ‘Main Object’ of your governing document (constitution or trust deed).
The ‘Charitable Object(s)’ is a description of your organisation and should make it clear what your organisation aims to achieve, how it will achieve these aims, who will benefit and where the benefits extend to.
The ‘Charitable Object(s)’ will be visible in the Public Register and will inform potential donors and the wider public what your organisation does/plans to do. Therefore, it should be clear and precise. It should leave no doubt in the reader’s mind of what your organisation was set up to do. Usually, a well-worded paragraph will suffice.
The following is an example of a well-drafted Charitable Object: “The advancement of community welfare of older persons living in rural areas of Co. Clare, by providing free transport from their homes to urban centres.”
Where can I find the Trustee Declaration Form?
To access the Trustee Declaration form you need to be logged into your charity account.
Once you are logged into your charity account go to the Declaration tab (bottom of left-hand list). On this screen you should see an orange box with an arrow pointing down in it with the word “Download” below it and “Declaration by Trustees” to the right of it.
Click on the orange box and a new window should open with the declaration form (in pdf format) displayed. You can now save and print the form (it is suggested you do both), ready for signing.
Who should sign the Trustee Declaration form?
In the case of a new application: all of the charity’s trustees must sign a declaration form (it is not necessary for all trustees to sign the same form).
In the case of a charity granted a CHY number before the 16th October 2014: the chairperson and one other charity trustee of the body must sign a declaration form.
Which governing document should I upload?
A copy (pdf) of your governing document (Constitution or Trust Deed) should be uploaded to your organisation’s account during the application/registration process. A governing document contains the rules governing the administration and control of a charitable organisation and regulates its activities.
There are different types of governing documents depending on the form of your charitable organisation. These include:
- for charitable trusts: the deed of trust establishing the charitable trust
- for companies: the constitution (memorandum and articles of association)
- for corporate bodies other than companies: the charter, statute or other similar instrument by which it is established
- for unincorporated bodies of persons: the rules of the body
Please note: The Charities Regulator has agreed standard clauses for incorporated and unincorporated charitable organisations. They can be accessed here. All incorporated and unincorporated charitable organisations must include these clauses in their governing document as a condition of registration.
We have also drafted model constitutions for incorporated and unincorporated charitable bodies, which we encourage applicants to use. Any applicant organisation which uses our model constitution will benefit from a quicker assessment process.
What financial documents should I upload?
When applying for charitable status you are strongly advised to attach your most recent accounts, as a minimum. If your organisation’s gross annual income was more than €100,000.00 and the organisation is not registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO), you should provide us with full audited accounts.
If an organisation does not have accounts, it should submit bank statements for the last 6 months or from the date the account was opened, if this is more recent. If an organisation has not had any financial activity and no bank account, then a letter confirming the same should be attached.
Please note: The Charities Regulator may ask, and expect to receive, any financial documentation relevant to the applicant organisation.
My organisation is not listed on the Register of Charities – what should I do?
If your organisation held a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners before 16th October 2014, please contact the Charities Regulator immediately.
Otherwise, please read through the information in our FAQs, to determine whether your organisation is required to apply for charitable status, and for instructions on how to do so.
How do I update or amend my charity details?
Please log in to your charity’s account via our website and update your details via the ‘Charity Maintenance’ tab. http://charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie/website/cra/signup.nsf/loginpage
Please note: some details cannot be changed without the permission of the Charities Regulator such as (but not limited to) the charity’s name and the charity’s charitable purpose.
How do I change the name of my charity?
Please contact the Charities Regulator directly via firstname.lastname@example.org entering ‘Name change request’ in the subject bar and we will advise you of the next steps. Note that the name of a registered charitable organisation cannot be changed without our consent.
Please note that the Regulator may refuse your name change request if we are of the opinion that the new name chosen is:
- the same or very similar to an existing charity;
- likely to mislead people about your purposes or activities;
- likely to make people believe you are connected to the government, a local authority or any other organisation or group to whom you are not in fact connected;
What do I do if my charity is no longer active or closed?
If your charity held a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners before 16th October 2014:
· In the first instance you should inform the Charities Section at the Collector General’s Division of the Revenue Commissioners: email@example.com
· They will then advise the Charities Regulator and we will arrange for the removal of the charity from the Register of Charities.
If your charity did not hold a CHY number before 16th October 2014:
· In the first instance you should inform the Charities Regulator.
· The Charities Regulator will then inform you of the next steps that need to be taken in order to wind-up the organisation in compliance with the law
· If you currently hold a CHY number you should also notify the Charities Section at the Revenue Commissioners: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is an annual report?
All organisations on the Register of Charities are required to provide information to the Charities Regulator on their activities on a yearly basis. This is referred to as an annual report.
When is my annual report due?
Your annual report is due 10 months after the end of your financial year. For example:
· For a registered charity with a financial year end of 31st December, the deadline for your next annual report is 31st October.
· For a registered charity with a financial year end of 31st May, the deadline for your next annual report is 31st March.
You will receive an automatic reminder when your annual report is due for completion.
How do I complete my annual report?
To complete your annual report you need to log into your charity account and fill out the annual reporting template. You should update your charity’s details if necessary.
In filling out the annual reporting template you will be required to:
• Provide details of your charity's activities during the reporting period;
• Provide income and expenditure information about your charity;
• Upload accounts and reports (where applicable) as PDFs for the period;
• Make a declaration that your charity's details are up to date and that your annual report is complete.
What financial information do I need to provide?
The number and type of documents required in order to complete your annual report will depend on the size of your organisation, in terms of gross annual income.
All charities are required to fill out the financial section of the online annual reporting template, specifying gross annual income and gross annual expenditure.
- A charity with a gross annual income of more than €100,001 is required to provide a full set of audited accounts, including directors and auditors reports for the reporting period.
- A charity with a gross annual income of €10,001 - €100,000 is required to provide a profit and loss account (or income and expenditure account and statement of assets and liabilities) for the reporting period.
- A charity with a gross annual income of less than €10,000 may choose to submit a profit and loss account (or income and expenditure account and statement of assets and liabilities) for the reporting period.
Note: Education Bodies, companies listed with the CRO and charities with a gross income of less than €10,000 are not required to provide annual accounts to the Charities Regulator, unless requested to do so.
What should I do if I have forgotten my charity's password?
You can reset your charity's account password by using the ‘Forgotten Password’ link on the charity login page.
What should I do if I have problems accessing the Register?
Some people have reported access difficulties when using Internet Explorer and Safari. While this I.T. issue is being addressed, please try using another internet browser, such as Google Chrome.
Can I change my username/email address?
Please e-mail the Charities Regulator with the following details:
• Your current username / email address
• The new username / email address you want set up
• Name of the person who set up the account
• Your Registered Charity Number
We will then change your charity's login username and confirm the change by email with you.
Uploading Documents – What do I need to know?
- Format: Documents need to be in PDF (Portable Document Format) to be uploaded.
- Size: The maximum size of a file to be uploaded is 10mb.
- Multiple documents: You are only permitted to upload one document of each type e.g. Governing document. There is no need to divide up a document, such as an annual report, to populate the various headings. Where the information is contained in another document, or you do not have a document, add a note in the description field.
- Naming files: Please name the files you are uploading so that it clearly represents the contents of the document. e.g. "Charity X Governing Doc". Also please use the description field to add any extra information or clarification.
- Even if you have submitted the document to the CRO or Revenue, it is still necessary to upload the document for your application to the Charities Regulator.
Do I need to enter everything at once / in one session?
You can enter information, save it and logout, then login again and enter further information as many times as you like. Please note that once you have declared your charity's information complete, or submitted your application, you will no longer be able to edit your application details. However, registered charities are able to edit some details once their application is declared complete.
How secure is the Charities Regulator website?
The Charities Regulator's website operates to the highest available security standards. To verify that the page is secure, please check that there is a padlock icon in your browser.
For other queries please use the following e-mail addresses:
General Information: email@example.com
Concerns relating to Charities: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Queries: email@example.com
Freedom of Information Queries: foi@charitiesregulator..ie
The links on the following page may also be helpful