At what point can you call yourself a charity, is it at the point you open your doors, or is it when you get registration approval? Unless you’re a fully registered company, you’re can’t use “Ltd”, shouldn’t the same apply to a charitable organization? It would seem you can call yourself a charity, have reference to your ‘entity’ as being a charity without actually being one. Is it fair, is it right, is it misleading? OK, before everyone jumps in and says “but you’re called Charity Matters”, yes I am, but where I’m different is I don’t, and never have said I am a charity, I work with charities and NGOs. What is of concern is an organization calling themselves a charity when they’re not. Sure, they may have charitable intent, but the perception they are giving is that they are one. Organizations who do this, whilst calling for financial support are in my opinion could be seen as misleading those who give financial support – unless it is clearly spelled out that any financial support given does not allow the donor to claim tax credits or rebates. Further, is there potential for anyone to call themselves a charity and in doing so further cast clouds of doubt over the sector as a whole? I’d appreciate comment on this, as if there’s a general feeling that the use of “charity” in either name or descriptor when an organization isn’t one causes concern, it would be good to start the ball rolling to prevent this and further protect and clean up the sector.
2 thoughts on “When is a “charity” a charity?”
Legally an entity is not able to refer to itself as a charity until it has had its application to become an Incorporated Society approved by the Companies Office. Having said that, the process of incorporation isnt onerous or lengthy; therefore the start up and the application generally take place concurrently. The factors that contribute to being a charity are a constitution or rules, people to be trustees or board members, acceptance of application.A start up charity will often engage in early marketing, sometimes prior to the application process becoming complete. Whether this activity creates an incorrect perception would depend upon the marketing message. If however the message was simply to raise awareness of the entity then no harm likely to be done.