About charities

What are charities?

Charities are organisations that benefit the public in a way defined in law. In Northern Ireland new charity legislation (opens in new window) was passed by the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly in 2008.

This lists the kinds of activities that are considered charitable.  All charities operating in Northern Ireland must register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.  A list of these charities will be available to the public at all times on our online Register of Charities.

We will also publish reports, surveys and consultations which give detailed information on specific issues relating to charities.

Who runs charities?

Charities are run by 'trustees' - the people who form the governing body or ‘board’ of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity. Most trustees are volunteers, and receive no payment (except out-of-pocket expenses).

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, our Trusteeship section explains what's involved and can help you find vacancies.

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