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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Start up a charity

There are many reasons why individuals or organisations may wish to set up a new charity. The Commission’s Starting a charity guidance, available below, provides a general introduction and overview of the key factors that should be considered when setting up a new charity. 

It highlights important aspects of the law that governs charities in Northern Ireland and signposts to more detailed guidance on specific areas. If you are thinking of setting up a new charity this guidance will help you to consider:

  • whether setting up a charity is the best way to achieve your purpose 
  • legal obligations on charities
  • what type of charity to set up
  • what rules you may want to set for your charity
  • naming your charity
  • planning for the future.

Download CCNI EG039 Starting a new charity PDF (858 KB)

In accordance with charity law, an organisation must apply for registration as a charity in Northern Ireland if:

  • it has exclusively charitable purposes
  • it is governed by the law of Northern Ireland
  • it is an institution, that is, it is an organisation that is an independent body, the hallmarks of which include having control and direction over its governance and resources.

Charities registered with the Commission must also comply with a number of legal responsibilities set out in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008, including reporting to the Commission on their activities, governance and finances on an annual basis. 

As well as covering the key considerations on starting a charity, the guidance provides an overview of compulsory charity registration and annual reporting. For more information on these areas, please visit the Register your charity or Annual reporting sections of the Commission’s website.