When is a “charity” a charity?

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.