This section answers common questions about how to make changes to a charity's details or rules, and where in the future you need our approval. It will provide links to our guidance and online forms where you need to contact us.
What is a governing document?
Your governing document can be a trust deed, a constitution or, in the case of a charitable company, a memorandum and articles of association. It is a public document, and you may need to make changes to it to ensure your charity continues to operate effectively. If you have made changes you may need approval. This section is about who you will need approval from.
In the future, we will give detailed guidance about how changes to governing documents can be made, and that guidance will depend on:
- your charity type;
- the nature of the changes you want to make; and,
- what it says in your charity's governing document.
For example, making changes to how your charity is administered will be more straightforward than if you are making changes to your charity’s objects or purposes. The guidance will provide particular information about how to go about making changes in the different circumstances which may arise.
The information below is about some changes which will be brought in by the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008, which will make it easier for charities to make changes to their governing documents.
Unincorporated charities — making changes to a governing document
If your charity does not already have powers to make changes to its governing document, the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 will give powers to unincorporated charities to allow them to make their own changes to their governing document, rather than having to seek approval from the Commission.
The type of changes you will be able to make will depend on your annual income. We will post more information on the website about the income conditions and which parts of your governing document document you will be able to change before the powers come into operation.
The powers will allow some charities to:
- transfer property;
- replace the charitable purposes;
- modify the trustees powers or make changes to how the charity is administered; or
- spend capital.
Where any of the above applies, the charity will have to send us a copy of the resolution where the changes were passed by the trustees. The Commission has some powers to regulate the changes, such as asking trustees to give public notice of what they propose to change. The Commission can object to some of the proposed changes. We will give more information about this in due course.
You do not need to tell us about any changes you have made to your governing document yet.
Unincorporated charities registered with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for charitable tax purposes —inform HMRC of changes to a governing document
Any unincorporated charity which is registered with HMRC must notify HMRC of changes to its governing document by completing HMRC ChV1 - Charities Variations Form which is available on the HMRC website. If you are not registered with HMRC, it will not be necessary to inform the Commission of the changes you have made.
We will give more information about this if the rules change and it does become necessary to inform the Commission.
Charitable companies — consent to be obtained from the Department for Social Development
If your charity is also a registered company, you must obtain consent to the changes to your company’s objects clauses from the Department for Social Development. The Department’s consent is required before you file your amended governing document with Companies House, and before HMRC are informed of the change. The Department will provide more information about what you should do.
Contact Kieran Doyle at:—
Voluntary and Community Unit
Department for Social Development
1 Cromac Place
Telephone: (028) 9082 9427
The Commission will assume the role of providing this consent at a future date. We will provide more guidance about this when we do assume this role.