New model governing documents will help Northern Ireland charities

Northern Ireland’s charity regulator has this week launched a series of model governing documents to support charities in ensuring they have the right legal structure in place before they apply to register.

Key to the establishment and operation of all charities, a governing document is a legal record which sets out a charity’s purposes and, usually, how it is to be administered.

Frances McCandless, Commission Chief Executive, explained: “A charity’s governing document is a crucial part of their overall governance, basically acting as the rule book for the way in which a charity will operate.

“Now that registration has begun, and to meet high demand, the Commission has developed four templates to support charities in ensuring their governing document contains all the necessary provisions.”

Detailing an organisation’s administration processes, structure, finance and charitable purposes, governing documents come in many different formats, dependent on the structure of the charity itself.

As a result, the Commission has produced four model governing document templates (available online here) for charities to use:

  • A model trust deed for charitable trusts
  • A model constitution for charitable associations
  • A model constitution for small charitable associations
  • A model memorandum and articles for charitable companies

Frances continued:  “The templates are aimed at helping new charities establish themselves and existing charities to review their governing documents to make sure they contain all the required elements.

“Each template can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual charity, with spaces to tailor certain clauses so they are specific to the charity as well as to add charitable purposes.

“Along with our range of charity guidance, model governing documents are a vital tool for charities to ensure they have the right governance in place and are ready to apply to register when called forward.”

For more information on model governing documents please visit the Model governing documents page of


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169 or email:

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