Charity essentials

Being a charity is not the same as being an organisation that does ‘good things’. Charity has an outward, inclusive nature: it is not inward-looking, for private benefit.  Only organisations with aims ('purposes') that are charitable for public benefit are accorded the charity label. 

To be a charity is therefore a mixture of what you are, what you do and how you do it. This section sets out the essentials of what it means to be a well-run and effective charity today.

The essential trustee

Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for running a charity, for its property, finances and the employment of any staff or volunteers. This section sets our our guidance to help you plan the strategic future of your charity and its work, whilst ensuring it stays accountable to its beneficiaries, to the Charity Commission and the public in general.

Hallmarks of an effective charity

Charities operate for many different purposes but share a common desire to do the best for their beneficiaries. This guidance sets out six key good practice 'hallmarks' that will help trustees to improve the effectiveness of their charity, and uphold the principles that our regulatory framework exists to support.

Charitable purposes and Public Benefit

Whilst the charitable sector is enormous and very diverse, the aims of each and every charity, whatever their size, must be for public benefit.  Public benefit is therefore central to the work of all charities. This section explains why some purposes are charitable, what public benefit means in practice and how trustees can report on it.

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