Apply for Charitable Status

All charitable organisations operating in Ireland are required to be registered with us. Here you can learn about the requirements and benefits of registration, and begin your application for charitable status

Should I Apply for Charitable Status?

If the answer to all three of the following questions is 'yes', then your organisation should apply for registration as a charity:

  • 1. Does your organisation wish to operate in the Republic of Ireland?

    If your organisation intends to conduct charitable activities in the Republic of Ireland, you should first be registered with the Charities Regulator.

  • 2. Does your organisation have exclusively charitable purposes?

    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, but is not limited to:

    • "the advancement of community welfare including the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, or disability;
    • the advancement of community development, including rural or urban regeneration;
    • the promotion of civic responsibility or voluntary work;
    • the promotion of health, including the prevention or relief of sickness, disease or human suffering;
    • the advancement of conflict resolution or reconciliation;
    • the promotion of religious or racial harmony and harmonious community relations;
    • the protection of the natural environment;
    • the advancement of environmental sustainability;
    • the advancement of the efficient and effective use of the property of charitable organisations;
    • the prevention or relief of suffering of animals;
    • the advancement of the arts, heritage or sciences; and
    • the integration of those who are disadvantaged, and the promotion of their full participation, in society."

    Your organisation must have a clear charitable purpose.Organisations that have purposes that are not charitable should not apply.

  • 3. Does your organisation provide a clear public benefit, in this country or elsewhere?

    A public benefit is something which is beneficial in an identifiable way to the general public, or a section of the public.  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.

Before you Apply for Charitable Status

Some other questions to consider:

  • 4. Have you considered if other charities are providing the same benefit?

    It is important that anyone planning to establish and run a charity fully understands the time and responsibilities involved in the administration of such an organisation.  If you are passionate about a cause or a social issue, then it is possible that another charity has already been registered to support the same (or similar) work.  You may consider joining forces with an established charity, rather than starting a new charity, and it may be a more efficient use of time and funds.

  • 5. Are you fundraising for an individual or a single cause?

    This is an important question and relates to the issue of ‘charitable purpose’ (see Q.2 above).  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.  If your organisation does not provide public benefit, then it does not qualify for charitable status.

    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.

    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 you are planning to raise funds for an individual or a single cause, you could consider an alliance with a charity that is already registered.

  • 6. Do you understand you will be subject to the Charities Act 2009?

    The Charities Act 2009 is the most recent piece of charity legislation in Ireland.  One of its core objectives is to provide for the better regulation of charitable organisations.  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.

    It also contains a list of key duties and responsibilities for charity trustees, relating to governance and financial reporting.  These are legal obligations for trustees and this role should not be entered into lightly and without full consideration.

    The full text of the Charities Act 2009 is available here.

  • 7. Do you understand the legal responsibilities of a Charity Trustee?

    a) 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.

    b) 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.

    c) 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 and you must keep your details up to date with us.

    d) 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.

    e) 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.

    Please see our downloadable document 'Guidance for Charity Trustees'

Benefits of being a Registered Charity

Becoming a registered charity does not only mean that you will be complying with the law.  You will also:

  • Demonstrate that you operate to high standards of governance and administration
  • Highlight your commitment to transparency and accountability
  • Be in a better position to retain and attract statutory funding and contracts
  • Provide a sound basis for donors and volunteers to support you
  • Find it easier to secure permits for on-street collections
  • Be able to apply to the Revenue Commissioners for charitable tax exempt status and associated benefits
  • Play your part in rebuilding trust and confidence in the charities sector

Apply for Charitable Status here

*Please understand that until your application has been deemed 'Full and Complete' then you are not deemed to have submitted a valid application*

Helpful Information

We have provided resources to assist you in preparing your governing documents, to meet the requirements of the Charities Regulator when making an application.  We would recommend that you consider the resources provided when making an application. 

  • Incorporated Entities (CLG)

    The Charities Regulator has agreed a Model Constitution for Companies Limited by Guarantee.  The Charities Regulator has designed this Model Document to encourage improved drafting of constitutions. 

    • Please complete your company’s details (in the spaces provided) and provide your objects, subsidiary objects (if any), other relevant information and submit.
    • You do not need to adopt the revised constitution or lodge it with the Companies Registration Office until you have received notification from the Charities Regulator to do so.

    Please see 'Model Constitution - CLG' below.

    In the case that you decide not to use our model constitution you must ensure that you have, at a minimum, amended your constitution to include our standard clauses before your application for charitable status can be processed. 

    • Amend your governing document to include the standard clauses for companies as attached and submit.
    • You do not need to adopt the revised constitution or lodge it with the Companies Registration Office until you have received notification from the Charities Regulator to do so. 

    Please see 'Standard Clauses - CLG' below.

    If your company has already submitted an application for charitable status, the Charities Regulator will require you to make these changes and will contact you in due course.2

  • Unincorporated Entities

    The Charities Regulator has developed a Model Constitution for an Unincorporated Entity or Association.  We have designed this Model Document to encourage improved drafting of constitutions.

    • Please complete your organisation’s details (in the spaces provided) and provide your objects, subsidiary objects (if any) and other relevant information.
    • You do not need to adopt the revised constitution until you have received notification from the Charities Regulator to do so.

    Please see 'Model Constitution - Unincorporated Entities' below.

    In the event that you decide not to use our model constitution you must ensure that you have, at a minimum, amended your governing document to include our standard clauses before your application for charitable status can be further processed. 

    • Amend your governing document to include the standard clauses for unincorporated bodies as attached.
    • You do not need to adopt the revised constitution until you have received notification from the Charities Regulator.

    Please see 'Standard Clauses - Unincorporated Entities' below.

Guidance Documents