New powers for unincorporated charities

Sometimes charities need to adapt the way they operate to reflect changes in society and the context in which they work.

Some unincorporated charities (organisations which are not a company or other corporate body) may have the power in their governing document to make changes. Others may be able to use provisions set out specifically for unincorporated charities in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (as amended).

Unincorporated charities can now use the provisions within sections 123 to 130 of the Charities Act to:

  • transfer all property to another charity
  • transfer permanent endowment and unrestricted property
  • replace purposes of the charity
  • modify administrative powers or procedures
  • spend permanent endowment fund given for a particular purpose
  • spend permanent endowment funds given for a particular purpose in large charities
  • spend permanent endowment funds subject to special trusts.

The provisions are intended to free smaller, unincorporated charities from the requirement to consult and obtain approval from the Commission should they wish to take one of the actions listed above.

Some charities may already have power within their governing document to make these changes and therefore can take the appropriate action without the consent of the Commission.

Charities that do not have the power within their governing document can instead use the statutory powers. The Commission’s guidance on New powers for unincorporated charities sets out the conditions to be met and procedures to be followed by charities wishing to use the statutory powers. It is available to read or download below:

Currently, the power to use the provisions under the Charities Act to make these changes only applies to charities which are on the deemed list of charities or charities which are registered with the Commission.

If you have any queries in relation to using the powers under sections 123 to 130 of the Charities Act, please contact us on:

Telephone: 028 3832 0220

Textphone: 028 3834 7639

Email: casework@charitycommisisonni.org.uk

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