Charities Regulatory Authority
What is the Charities Regulator?
The Charities Regulatory Authority (Charities Regulator) is the statutory
body responsible for regulating charitable organisations in Ireland. It
maintains a public register of charities and monitors their compliance with the
Act 2009, which sets out a charity's legal obligations for operating in
- Increasing public trust in charities
- Promoting trustees of charities compliance with their obligations
- Ensuring charities are accountable to their donors, beneficiaries and the public
- Investigating charities in accordance with the Charities Act 2009
- Encouraging better management of charities by providing information and advice, including guidelines, codes of conduct and template constitutional documents
You can read more about charities in our document 'What is a charity?’.
Register of charitable organisations
The Charities Regulator maintains a register of charities that are active in Ireland. It is an offence for an organisation to describe itself as a charity if it is not registered with the Charities Regulator.
Being registered with the Charities Regulator is separate from being granted a charitable tax exemption. The Revenue Commissioners decide if an organisation is a charity for tax purposes and whether it qualifies for a tax exemption. There is a list of bodies with charitable tax exemption on revenue.ie.
What the Regulator needs to register a charity
Organisations that want to carry out charitable activities must register with the Regulator. They must provide information about their organisation including where it operates and what it does. They must also provide information about the organisation’s income and fundraising activities, including:
- Bank account details
- How it has raised or plans to raise money
- How much money it raised in the year before applying for registration
- The details of all professional fundraising agents or consultants it uses or intends to use
- Its gross income in the last financial year
- Its financial accounts for the previous year
Each organisation must provide a copy of its constitution or governing documents (these take different forms depending on the form of the charitable organisation). Organisations who work with vulnerable people and children must also give details of the risk assessment procedures, safety checks and safeguards they have in place.
If the Regulator approves an organisation’s application, it awards them charitable status, assigns them a Registered Charity Number and lists them as a charity on the public register. The public register lists the:
- Charity’s name
- Charity’s addresses
- Names of the Charity’s trustees
- Charity’s objectives (why the charity has been set up and what it hopes to achieve)
- Charity’s registration number
If the Charities Regulator refuses an organisation’s application to be registered as a charity, it must tell the organisation why its application was refused and that it can appeal the decision, see ‘Appeals’ below.
The Regulator can refuse to register an organisation for a number of reasons, including for its choice of name. For example, they may refuse an organisation if its name is:
- The same as, or similar to, another charity
- Designed to mislead the public about its purposes or activities
- Likely to make the public believe it is connected with the Government, a local authority or anyone it is not connected with
Once a charity is registered, its name can only be changed with the consent of the Regulator.
Removing a charity from the register
The Charities Regulator must remove organisations from the register in certain circumstances, for example, if a charity changes its name without the Regulator’s consent, or if the Regulator thinks a charity is promoting unlawful or immoral activities.
The Regulator can choose to remove a charity from the register. This can happen if an organisation does not comply with its financial obligations, or does not give the Regulator the information it requires.
If a charity is removed from the register they must wait at least a year before applying to be registered again. The register lists information about any charities that have been removed from the register.
If the Regulator refuses an organisation’s application to be listed on the register, the organisation can appeal to the Charity Appeals Tribunal. Organisations can appeal the decision, but must do so within 21 days of receiving written notice of the refusal from the Regulator. The Regulator must accept the decision of the Tribunal.
The Regulator can appoint an inspector to investigate a charity’s affairs. The charity and its trustees must fully co-operate with an investigation and give the inspector all the relevant accounts and documents.
The inspector has the power to compel people to co-operate with an investigation, including people not directly connected with the charity. The inspector can also apply to the District Court for a warrant to enter and search a charity’s premises.
Investigators report their findings to the Charities Regulator. The Regulator may forward the report to other authorities such as the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Revenue Commissioners, for further investigation.
Raising a concern about a charity
If you are concerned about a charity or its activities, you can raise a concern with the Charities Regulator. The most common concerns are about financial mismanagement, that the organisation is not a real charity and governance concerns.
Where to apply