Public benefit is at the heart of what it means to be a charity. The Charities Act 2006 requires all charities to have aims which are, demonstrably, for the public benefit. Two principles (with a number of sub-principles) must be met to show that an organisation’s aims are for the public benefit:
- There must be an identifiable benefit or benefits
- Benefit must be to the public or a section of the public
This means that before you apply to register a new charity, you must have read our Public benefit guidance. This will explain how your application should demonstrate that your organisation's aims are charitable for the public benefit. It cannot have some aims which are charitable and others which are not. Our Guidance on charitable purposes sets out which aims ('purposes') are considered to be charitable and why.
This is important because when you apply to register your organisation as a charity, we use the information you provide to decide if its aims are charitable and for the public benefit. In most cases this will be obvious, especially if you use well-known charitable objects and use an approved governing document.
Where it isn't straightforward (for example if your organisation’s aims are relatively new or have some unusual feature) we assess the information you provide against the principles outlined in our guidance. Where necessary, we may ask you to clarify what your organisation’s aims are and whether those aims are for the public benefit.
If we find your organsiation's aims do not meet the public benefit requirement, we may give you advice about how you should alter its aims, restructure its objects, or alter the way it will carry out its aims. If you still cannot demonstrate that your organisation's aims are, or will be carried out, for the public benefit, then it cannot be registered as a charity.