Number of charities registered in Ireland surpasses 10,000

Charities Regulator publishes 2019 Annual Report


14 July 2019

 The number of charities registered in Ireland surpassed the 10,000 mark in 2019, in what was the busiest year to date for the Charities Regulator which published its annual report today. In addition to registering charities and ongoing compliance and enforcement activities, other significant work in the Regulator’s fifth full year of operations included publication of the Charities Governance Code Toolkit which comprises a suite of practical guidance documents and templates to assist those seeking to implement the Code; publication of our second Statement of Strategy 2019-2021; the successful implementation of a new compliance case management system and new online application processes for charity services under the older Charities Acts; the publication of an Inspector’s Report; and the hosting of our Meet the Charities Regulator roadshow of seminars around the country.


The Register of Charities

The total number on the public Register of Charities by year-end reached 10,514 which shows an increase of 715 (7%) on 2018. There were 67,129 charity trustees on the Register of Charities at the end of 2019, an increase of 10% on the previous year. Charity trustees include committee members and company directors and are the people who ultimately exercise control over, and are legally responsible for, a charity.

Some points of note in the breakdown of the Register of Charities as of 31 December 2019 are as follows: 

  • The most common charitable purpose of registered charities at the end of 2019 were purposes that are of benefit to the community (54%), followed by the advancement of education (30%), relief of poverty or economic hardship (9%) and religion (7%).


  • Of the 10,514 registered charities, 44% were incorporated companies, 50% were unincorporated (Associations, Board of Management (Schools) or other) and 6% were Charitable Trusts.


  • 52% of charities on the Register had income of more than €100,000, 32% had an income of between €10,000 and €100,000 and 16% had an income of less than €10,000. Of the 2,165 charities reporting an annual income of over €250,000 in 2019, 875 reported an income in excess of €1million. This is up from 855 in 2018.


  • 72% of charities on the Register had fewer than 20 volunteers. 43% of charities had no employees.  42% reported having between 1-19 employees, 8% had between 20-49, 5% had 50-249 while 2% had between 250-499.


Commenting on the publication of the Annual Report, Helen Martin, Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator said, “During 2019 we made significant progress on activities to support the Charities Regulator’s vision of a vibrant, trusted charity sector that is valued for the public benefit that it provides. A particular focus for the Charities Regulator today is the challenge that Covid-19 represents and I would like to thank all those involved in the charity sector, from those working on the front line, to those supporting local communities across the country. We will continue to monitor its impact on the sector, and we will provide information and guidance to charities as they navigate this very difficult period.”


Charities Governance Code

A significant development in 2019 was the commencement of work to support the implementation of the Charities Governance Code, which sets the minimum standards of governance for charities. The Code is a tool for charity trustees to ensure the effective management and control of their charities.

Commenting on the Code, Ms Martin said, “2019 was a learning year in relation to the Charities Governance Code and as part of our commitment to guide charity trustees as they implement the Code, we developed a Charities Governance Code Toolkit, which comprises a suite of practical guidance documents and templates designed to assist charity trustees with the implementation of the Code. In addition, we carried out a survey to better understand the areas of greatest concern to charities arising from the Charities Governance Code and the results of that survey informed the content of presentations on the Code, which were delivered at our regional Meet the Charities Regulator seminars in the second half of the year.”


Concerns raised in 2019

There was a total of 649 concerns raised with the Charities Regulator during 2019, of which 166 related to the issue of bogus clothing collections. The number of individual concerns raised represents a decrease of 5% on the number of concerns raised in 2018. Of the concerns raised with the Charities Regulator in 2019, approximately 91% raised issues in the combined categories of ‘Legitimacy of Charity’, ‘Governance Issues’ and ‘Financial Control & Transparency’.

Commenting on the number of concerns raised Ms Martin said, “Concerns regarding clothing collections constituted a significant number of the concerns that we received in 2019 and so, with the support of our colleagues in An Garda Síochána, we launched a national radio campaign in November urging members of the public to check the Register of Charities before donating. This particular campaign highlighted the importance of engaging with the wider public to tackle issues which have the potential to divert much needed donations from registered charities in Ireland.” 


The enforcement function of the Charities Regulator provides proportionate risk-based regulation and protection of charities.  The Regulator has investigative and protective powers, and this includes the ability to impose sanctions if a charity breaches certain obligations, such as the requirement to keep proper books of account or to submit its annual report. It also gives the Charities Regulator the authority to appoint inspectors to conduct statutory investigations into the affairs of charities.

During 2019, the Charities Regulator exercised its powers in a number of instances, which included:

  • Publication of an inspectors’ report into Galway University Foundation
  • Directions to charity trustees under section 53 of the Charities Act 2009 to provide information to the Charities Regulator
  • Directions to charity trustees under section 68 of the Charities Act 2009 to produce books, documents and other records


Minister of State Joe O’Brien welcomed the publication of the Annual Report, saying: “The activities outlined in the 2019 report demonstrate a year of great progress for the Regulator. In particular, I note the increased capacity of the Regulator to address public concerns, as well as the consolidation of supports available for the implementation of the Charities Governance Code. These developments are extremely important in helping maintain and enhance public confidence in the charitable sector. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Chair and the Board of the Regulator, and the management and staff, for their hard work and dedication throughout 2019.”


 2019 in numbers:

  • 10,514 charities on the Register of Charities at the end of 2019
  • 130 charities were deregisterd having lost their charitable tax status
  • 649 concerns received by the Regulator, 166 of which related to bogus clothing collections
  • 8 public engagement meetings as part of the Meet the Charities Regulator Roadshow
  • 123,800 visits to the website, up 4.25% on 2018
  • 19,146 contacts from charities, the public, beneficiaries and other stakeholders
  • 20,845 subscribers to quarterly ezine


Commenting on the publication of the Annual Report, Patrick Hopkins, Chairperson of the Charities Regulatory Authority said, “Like all parts of society, the Charities Regulatory Authority and the charities sector are not immune from the effects of the current health crisis. We are committed to building on what was achieved in 2019 and ensuring that all those working tirelessly across our communities to deliver much needed services have the information and guidance available to them to ensure that their charities can continue to provide those services in a manner that enhances public trust and confidence in the sector. On behalf of the Board and the staff of the Charities Regulator, we would therefore like to thank all of our stakeholders for their continuing support and engagement with our work.”

A full list of registered Irish Charities can be accessed here on the Register of Charities:

 The Charities Regulator Annual Report can be found here