Demonstrating public benefit – the public benefit requirement


Public benefit is at the heart of what it means to be a charity. The public benefit requirement is defined in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (as amended) and states that to be a charity in Northern Ireland an organisation:

  • must have purposes which fall under one of 12 descriptions of purposes listed in the Charities Act and
  • the purposes must be for the public benefit.

Following a public consultation in spring 2013, we have now published our statutory guidance, The public benefit requirement.

This guidance is aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of the public benefit requirement for any organisation wishing to be recognised as a charity in Northern Ireland.

The guidance is essential to all charities. You must consider this guidance when:

  • starting a charity
  • applying to register for charitable status
  • running your charity
  • reporting annually on your activities in pursuing your purposes.

Under the Charities Act, charity trustees must have regard to the public benefit statutory guidance produced by the Commission. This means charity trustees must be able to show that they are aware of the guidance and that they have taken it into account in making a decision where the guidance is relevant.

You can read or download The public benefit requirement as well as the accompanying glossary and FAQs by clicking on the links below:

In addition to this statutory guidance, the Commission has produced Registering as a charity in Northern Ireland, new guidance aimed at setting out the legal requirements, providing best practice advice and supporting organisations in applying to register as a Northern Ireland charity. You can read or download this guidance by clicking on the links below:  

The Commission has also produced supporting documents which provide further information on the 12 charitable purposes detailed in the Charities Act. All of these documents are available by clicking on the links below: 

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