How to write your charitable purposes

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Charitable purposes

Charitable purposes – sometimes called ‘objectives’ – are seen as most important part of your organisations’ governing document or constitution.

Your charitable purposes set out and explain what objectives your charity has been set up to achieve and they must meet one or more of the purposes that have been outlined in the Charities Act. These include objectives such as:

  • Relieving poverty
  • The advancement of education
  • The advancement of religion
  • Protecting the environment
  • Animal welfare
  • Community development
  • Human rights

For a full list of charitable purposes, click the below link for your location:

England and Wales  |  Scotland  |  Northern Ireland

From a legal point of view, you must run your charitable organisation in a manner that is consistent with and supports these purposes. It is also important to have clear charitable purposes so as to explain the work of your charity to donors, trustees and beneficiaries.

Writing your charitable purposes is perhaps the trickiest part of registering a charity, as you need to understand the rules and use the right language. We’ve produced the below guide to help you write your charity purposes – if you need any more help or support please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can point you in the right direction.

Structuring your charitable purposes

When it comes to writing your purposes, it can be useful to structure them in terms of the What, Where, Who and How:

  • What is your charity going to do?
  • Where are you going to do it?
  • Who will benefit?
  • How will you achieve these objectives?

It is important here to be clear and succinct, and avoid the use of jargon and technical language. The aim should be that anyone would be able to read your charitable purposes and understand exactly what it is your charity is set up to achieve.

What is your charity going to do?

Make sure that what you are stating you want to achieve is an allowed charitable purpose as set out in the Charities Act. The Charities Act lists 13 ‘descriptions of purposes’, which you can see in full here:

Where are you going to do it?

Your purposes should also state where you plan to operate. If you do not include a geographical location e.g. a city or country, then the assumption might be that you plan to provide services throughout the whole world – which would raise questions about your ability to manage and deliver services on such a scale.

You should therefore specify the geographical area you will be operating in: a town, a county, a region, a country etc.

Who will benefit?

A registered charity must be set up to provide a ‘public benefit’, which means helping a significant section of the public – or animals. You can specify which section of the public you wish to serve, such as children with rare diseases, victims of domestic abuse, homeless people and so on. You can also specify which animals your charity will focus on helping e.g. elephants, giraffes, tigers, dogs, cats etc…

The point is to be clear that your charity is open to any person or animal that fits the description of your charitable purpose – your services must be public rather than private.

How will you achieve these objectives?

Finally, your charitable purposes should explain what you will do to achieve the objectives laid out above. It is key to be as clear as you can without restricting any potential for future growth. For example, if you say your objective is to help disadvantaged children aged under 10 to develop social skills through football then this is all your charity will be able to do.

It may therefore be better to state that you will help children develop social skills through sport, as this gives you more room to grow in the future.

Examples of charitable purposes

Before writing your charitable purposes it is a good idea to view some examples to give you a better idea of what is expected.

Below is an example provided by the Charity Commission:

For the public benefit, the relief and assistance of people in need (what) in any part of the world (where) who are the victims of war or natural disaster or catastrophe (who) by supplying them with medical aid (how).

As you can see, charitable purposes only need to be few short lines that clearly state the What, Where, Who and How in natural language.

To see some real-life examples of charitable purposes, head over to the Charity Commission website and click on ‘Find a Charity’. You can then use the search bar to find any charity and view their charitable purposes, governing document and more.

About BHIB Charities Insurance

BHIB Charities Insurance specialise in providing tailored cover for community groups, clubs, societies, voluntary organisations and hobby or special interest groups. We offer more than just insurance and we are passionate about supporting local communities.

To find out how we can help your charity or not-for-profit organisation, email us on or call 0330 013 0036 to speak to our friendly, expert team.

Any views or opinions expressed above are for guidance only and are expressed in generic terms. They are not intended as a substitute for readers taking appropriate professional advice relevant to individual circumstances. We would always encourage readers to seek professional advice.

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