FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

     1. General

    2. Registering a Charity

    3. Registered Charities

    4. Annual Reporting Requirements

    5. Technical Issues

    6. Further Information

 

 

1.   General

 

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:

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.  However there are organisations with a public benefit which are not charities. Organisations that are not charities include:

Furthermore the following are not charities:

 

For further information see FAQ – “Which organisations should not apply for charitable status?”

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.

Under the Charities Act of 2009, there are a number of powers 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:

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2009/act/6/enacted/en/html

 

What is the Register of Charities?

The Register of Charities is a public list of all charities registered and regulated in the State.  The Register of Charities can be viewed here.

 

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.

 

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. 

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 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 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.

For trustee guidance please follow the link here.

For trustee guidance in Irish please follow the link here.

 

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 read and comply with the governing document of your charity (e.g. a constitution or deed of trust) and you must make sure 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

For trustee guidance please follow the link here.

For trustee guidance in Irish please follow the link here.

For guidance on internal financial controls please follow the link here.

For guidance on internal financial controls in Irish please follow the link here.

 

How do I raise a concern about a charity?

If you wish to raise a concern about a charity please follow the link here and complete the concerns form or you can contact us on our dedicated Concerns phone line: 01-633 1550.

 

Can I visit the Charities Regulator's office?

Visiting the Charities Regulator's office is by appointment only.  If you wish to request an appointment, please apply via the link here outlining the reason for your request or by email at info@charitiesregulator.ie

 

 

 

2.   Registering a Charity

 

Who has to register?

All charities operating in the Republic of Ireland must be fully 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:

 

Which organisations should not apply for charitable status?

Organisations that should not apply for charitable status include;

For more details please see the following questions.

 

Should my sports club apply to become a charity?

If your sports club was set up for the integration of people with special needs, for example a Special Olympics club, you may be eligible for charitable status and this must be made clear in your application. For further clarification on this please contact the Charities Regulator

Otherwise, organisations established solely for the promotion of athletic or amateur games or sports are not charities as defined by the Charities Act of 2009 and therefore should not apply.

 

We have set up a fundraising group which raises money for already established charities. Should we apply?

If your group is set up solely to fundraise for charities that are already registered, then your group should not apply for charitable status.

We recommend that you gain permission from the charity you are supporting and make it clear to the public which charity you are fundraising for. We also recommend displaying the Registered Charity Number (RCN) when fundraising to show the public that the charity in question is in fact registered.

 

We are fundraising to help an individual/relative/friend. Should we apply?

If you are fundraising to help a particular person (examples include but are not limited to medical treatment), you should not apply for charitable status. The fundraising would be of “private benefit” and therefore not charitable.

You are permitted to fundraise, so long as you make it clear to the public what you are fundraising for. You may not describe your fundraising as charitable or describe yourself as a charity.

A charity must have a “public benefit” and have a charitable purpose as defined by the Charities Act of 2009 to be eligible for charitable status. For more information about this please see the FAQ – What is a charity?

 

Our organisation carries out charitable activities but we are very small and have little or no income. Do we still need to apply/register?

Yes, if you operate in the Republic of Ireland, have a charitable purpose only and provide public benefit then your organisation must register.

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.

 

What are our organisation’s ‘Charitable Object(s)'?

The main object of your constitution is your charitable object/charitable purpose. 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). (You should not include the subsidiary objects in the free-text box.)

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.

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 16 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 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:


Please note: The Charities Regulator has agreed standard clauses for incorporated and unincorporated charitable organisations. 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.

To access the standard clauses and modal constitutions, please see these by clicking on Constitution Guidance.

 

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.

 

What other documents might I be asked to upload?

·    A Conflict of Interest Policy may be requested. This is a policy outlining what is to happen if a Trustee may benefit personally, or a person connected to them as defined by the Charities Act, by a decision being made within the organisation.

 

 

3.   Registered Charities

 

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 16 October 2014, please contact the Charities Regulator immediately.

Otherwise please follow the instructions below depending on the nature of your charity;

 

Please also refer to our previous FAQs for more information. Please follow our link here for further information on whether or not you should apply.

 

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?

You cannot change your charities name without the consent of the Charities Regulator.  

To change the name of your charity, one of the charity trustees must submit a request to the Charities Regulator in writing (by letter).  The letter must include the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should also consult section 42(2) of the Charities Act (link below) to see the criteria the Charities Regulator will apply in assessing your request for a change of name. 

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2009/act/6/enacted/en/print#sec42

 

If your charity has a CHY, then you also need to notify the Revenue Commissioners with regard to change of name. You can contact the charities’ section of the Revenue Commissioners at charities@revenue.ie or by phone at 067-63377. Once approved by Revenue you will need to contact the Charities Regulator for its approval

 

We wish to amend/change our constitution. What is the process?

The process may vary slightly depending on the circumstances of your organisation. This depends whether you were registered automatically with the Charities Regulator by virtue of having a CHY number on the 16 October 2014 or if you were registered with the Charities Regulator by completing the Regulator’s application process. Please follow the instructions below which applies to your charity.

Charities which held a CHY number on 16 October 2014 and were automatically registered with the Charities Regulator.

Charities registered with the Charities Regulator by completing the Regulator’s application process.

For guidance on how to prepare your constitution to meet the Charities Regulator’s standards, please see our constitution guidance here.

 

What do I do if my charity is no longer active or has closed?

If your charity held a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners before 16 October 2014:

· In the first instance you should inform the Charities Section at the Collector General’s Division of the Revenue Commissioners: charities@revenue.ie. Phone: 067 63377

· 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 16 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: charities@revenue.ie. Phone: 067 63377

 

 

 

4.   Annual Reporting Requirements

 

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 done by logging into your charity account and completing a template which requests financial information and information about what activities were carried out by your charity. This is known as an annual report in the Charities Act of 2009 or an annual return.

This is not to be confused with a detailed annual report document that is published by many charitable organisations.

 

When is my annual return due?

Your annual return is due 10 months after the end of your financial year.  For example:

You will receive an automatic reminder forty days before your annual return deadline for completion.

 

How do I complete my annual return?

To complete your annual return you need to log into your charity account and fill out the annual return template.  You should update your charity’s details if necessary.

In filling out the annual return 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.

Annual Reporting user guide

 

What financial information do I need to provide?

The financial information and documents required by the Charities Regulator for the annual return varies depending of the gross income of the charity and the type of charity. Please see and follow the instructions which apply to your charity.

An unincorporated charity with a gross annual income of more than €100,001 must:

An unincorporated charity with a gross annual income of €10,001 - €100,000 must:

An unincorporated charity with a gross annual income of less than €10,000 must:

Education Bodies and Incorporated Companies listed with the CRO must:

Education Bodies: Primary and Secondary Schools.

 

 

     5.   Technical Issues

 

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 bottom of the login page or by clicking here.

 

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 use Google Chrome.

Please note that if you are accessing the site with tablets or phones, it may hinder your experience with the website. A desktop computer is recommended.

 

Can I change my username/email address?

There are two ways in which you may change your username/email address.

By email:

You should contact using the email address you registered as your username:

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

By letter:

If you can no longer contact us using the email address you registered as your username:

Please send us a letter on headed paper signed by one of the charity trustees 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

This letter can be scanned, attached and sent by email or by post.

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?

Uploading documents for your annual return

In your annual return it may request multiple documents e.g. Directors report, full set of accounts, profit and loss etc. If you have included all this information on one document, please follow these steps:

 

Do I need to enter everything at once / in one session?

Applications:

Registered Charities:

 

How secure is the Charities Regulator website?

 

6.   Further Information

For other queries please use the following e-mail addresses:

General Information: info@charitiesregulator.ie

Concerns relating to Charities: concerns@charitiesregulator.ie or you can access the concerns form here.

Press Queries: press@charitiesregulator.ie

Freedom of Information Queries: foi@charitiesregulator.ie

Data Protection Queries: dpa@charitiesregulator.ie

 

The links on the following page may also be helpful

https://www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie/en/cra/pages/useful_links