The Essentials of Charity Regulation

The Wheel's Charity Regulation Helpdesk

If you have a question about charity regulation, please visit the Charities Regulatory Authority website at: www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie, or you can contact the CRA directly on (01) 633 1500.

If you have further specific queries after contacting the CRA, you can get in touch with The Wheel's charity regulation Helpdesk and we'll do our best to help you.

Phone: (01) 253 1078  |  Email: regulation@wheel.ie

 
The Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) was formally established on 16 October, 2014.

The CRA is the official Regulator of Irish Charities as established by the Charities Act 2009.  The CRA maintains the official Register of Charities in Ireland.

All organisations that have a charitable purpose, are formally constituted as not-for-profit (or public benefit) organisations and raise or apply funds for a charitable purpose should make an application to the Regulator for inclusion on the Register of Charities.

Any organisation which is a charity, refers to itself as a charity or creates the impression in the public mind that it is a charity, is legally required to be registered with the CRA. 

Newly establishing organisations who have a charitable purpose, are formally constituted as not-for-profit (or public benefit) organisations and raise or apply funds for a charitable purpose should make an application to the Regulator for inclusion on the Register of Charities.
 
The Regulator has devised a three question test - available here on their website - in order for organisations to determine whether they should register.
 
Organisations that are in doubt as to their charitable status should contact the Regulator.
 

Regulation Training

The Wheel has developed a range of governance and compliance training and information opportunities to equip Irish non-profits with the governance, financial and transparency skills required to respond effectively to this more challenging regulatory environment.  These trainings will  also help to rebuild the trust and support of the Irish public.

Visit The Wheel's training calendar to learn more.


(please click on any of the headings below to learn more about that particular topic)

Charity Regulation – What Do I Need to Do if I Am, or Want to Set Up, a Charity in Ireland?

There are three categories in which you will find yourself, in relation to being a charity in Ireland.

You will either be:

Category 1: An organisation with a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners on 16 October 2014 (i.e.: recognised as being a charity by the Revenue Commissioners for charitable tax exemption purposes), and now included in the Register of Charities with a registered charity number,

Category 2:  An organisation without a CHY number on 16 October 2014, which regards itself, and might be regarded by others, as a charity, or

Category 3: A group of people wanting to establish a charity from scratch but currently without a constitution and/or unincorporated.

Things you need to do to register your established charity, or set up a new charity:

Category 1

Organisations in category 1 were automatically registered with the Charities Regulatory Authority.  Click here to learn about the difference between your new Charity Registration Number and CHY number for charities.  These organisations must urgently complete their entry in the Register at www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie.

  1. If your organisation is Category 1 and has not received correspondence from the CRA enabling you create and complete your online profile on the Register of Charities, you should contact them immediately.
     
  2. It is only after complete registration that you will receive an email from the CRA informing you of your deadline for annual reporting. This could have been 31 October 2015 for charities with a financial year end 31 December 2014. In order to complete your annual report you MUST have updated your entry and declared your charity’s information complete.

    The Wheel is advising all members to complete the required information on your online charity account without delay.

Category 2

Organisations in category 2 were not automatically registered with the Charities Regulatory Authority and must proactively make an application to the Register.  The closing date for this application was April 2016 so this matter is also urgent for Category 2 organisations.  You need to:

  1. Click here to REGISTER your charity with the Charities Regulatory Authority.  This is now the only way to secure charitable status in Ireland.
     
  2. You may also wish to apply for charitable tax exemption to the Revenue Commissioners and if successful you will be issued with a CHY number.  Click here to learn about the difference between charity registration number and CHY number for charities.

Category 3

Organisations in Category 3 need to:

  1. Make an application to the Regulator for inclusion on the Register of Charities – see here Register Your Charity for more information about the process.
     
  2. The Charities Regulator has now agreed common requirements for charitable organisations with the Revenue Commissioners. All applicants for charitable status must now include agreed standard clauses in their governing document – see here for more information and to download the required clauses - Common Requirements For Charities.
     
  3. The Charities Regulator has developed a Model Constitution for Companies Limited by Guarantee CLG (incorporating a Memorandum & Articles of Association) with the Revenue Commissioners– see here for this very useful template and the Charities Regulator’s guidance Model Constitution for a CLG.
     
  4. If you wish to be an incorporated charity create a draft Constitution for your own organisation using this model, which states clearly:
    1. The organisation’s primary charitable purpose
    2. The organisation’s secondary purposes.  These are things you are going to do to advance, and which are only concerned with advancing, your primary charitable purpose.
       
  5. Use your draft Constitution to register your organisation with the Charities Regulator
     
  6. Once you register with the Charities Regulator, you will receive a registration number.  However, the organisation is not legally regarded as a charity until the registration has been processed, and the organisation’s information appears on the publicly available Register of Charities.
     
  7. Following securing the opinion of the Charity Regulator that your organisation would be regarded as charitable (i.e.: when the registration process described above is complete), then submit your draft Constitution to the Companies Registration Office for registering as a company.
     
  8. You may also wish to register your charity with the Revenue Commissioners to obtain a CHY number for charitable tax exemption.  Click here to learn about the difference between charity registration number and CHY number for charities.

Click here to download The Wheel's factsheet on Forming a Charity for more guidance.

The Governance Code: a Code of Practice for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations is a voluntary code for the sector that will provide all those non-profits who adhere to it with the roadmap they need to ensure the highest standards of governance for their organisation. Signing up for the Governance Code now is also one of the best possible ways to ensure that you will find your organisation to be in full compliance with the requirements of the Charities Regulatory Authority.

What does governance mean?

Governance refers to how an organisation is run, directed and controlled. Good governance means an organisation will design and put in place policies and procedures that will make sure the organisation runs effectively.
 
All Community, Voluntary and Charitable (CVC) Organisations have a responsibility to provide and follow a code of good practice when it comes to how their organisations are run. It is the responsibility of the people who run the organisation, usually called the board or management committee - to make sure this happens.

Until recently, there have been no clear guidelines to help people on the boards of such organisations to run their organisations and well run CVC organisations have not had access to a tool which allows them to demonstrate their high standards of governance to their stakeholders. In the past some organisations have failed and been embarrassed through being run poorly and this can shatter public confidence and trust.

The Governance Code was developed by the sector and for the sector, with the express purpose of enabling community and voluntary organisations to achieve the highest standards of governance in the running of their organisations..

The intention is for the Governance Code to:
  • Become the standard definition of good practice in governance for the CVC Sector in Ireland and;
  • Inform the standards that will be required by both funders and Regulators.
To get going with the Governance Code now, visit www.governancecode.ie. The website lays out the Code in very easy to understand and clear ways, while also providing you with additional resources (including relevant training opportunities) and links.
 

The Wheel's Adoption of The Governance Code

The Wheel has fulfilled all the recommended guideline actions for compliance for a Type C organisation as defined by the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations (www.governancecode.ie).

The formal board decision giving effect to this was made in June 2014, and the one-page fully-compliant document was signed. This is now downloadable from our website here. The Wheel is listed on www.governancecode.ie as one of the fully compliant organisations.

Other Codes

Other codes of Corporate Governance also exist. It is more important to comply with a high standard corporate governance code than it is to comply with any specific code. For example, the Dóchas Code of Corporate Governance for NGOs is recognised as being of an equivalent high standard to the Governance Code. Therefore, organisations should not consider that they should comply with both of these codes. Instead, they should pick the one that best suits their purposes.

General Governance Checklist for Non-profits

Click here to download a general checklist of good governance basics (note: this checklist is separate to the Governance Code and all other existing codes).

The Charities Regulatory Authority was formally established in October 2014 – an exciting and positive step for the charity sector in Ireland.  

To help our members on their Governance Code journey, The Wheel has developed an exclusive document resource pack - absolutely free for Members of The Wheel!

The pack was created to assist organisations working toward compliance with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary & Charitable Organisations, and contains a comprehensive range of over 30 sample and template documents, including:

  • Guide to Governing Documents for Charities
  • Samples of The Wheel’s own policy documents (e.g.: Health & Safety Policy, Complaints Policy, Risk Management Policy etc.)
  • Introductory guidelines for creating your organisation’s Strategy
  • Board structures, Code of Conduct, reports, divisions of responsibility and more
  • Planning documents templates (e.g.: Operations/Communications Plans).

Click here to download a full A-Z list of the available documents and their corresponding Governance Code sections.

How to Access Full Document Pack

Click here to fill in our online form. We will then email you the pack as a compressed folder, and instructions on how to use it.

Note: due to high demand for this new resource, requests may take up to 14 days to process.  Thank you in advance for your patience!


Remember: your organisation must be a member of The Wheel to access the pack.  If it is not, please:

  1. Fill out the online request form as normal, making sure to write ‘non-member’ in the ‘Special requirements/queries’ section
  2. Next, click here to apply for membership of The Wheel.

 If you have any queries around your organisations membership, feel free to call us on (01) 454 8727 and we will help you to figure it out.

The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising provides Irish charities with good practice standards for fundraising. It was developed by a steering group set up in response to the Charities Act 2009 following extensive consultation with industry experts and stakeholders including charities, non-profit organisations, legal and financial advisors, donors and academics.

This process was led by the Irish Charities Tax Reform Group (now Charities Institute Ireland) and supported by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The statement - along with supporting implementation resources - is available to download here.

September 2017: Fundraising Guidelines from Charities Regulator


The Wheel's Compliance with the Fundraising Principles

Download documents below, each one indicating The Wheel's commitment to complying fully with the Fundraising Principles:


 

 

FURTHER RESOURCES


Become a Member of The Wheel

Becoming a member of The Wheel is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your organisation are kept up to date and informed about everything happening in the area of regulation.

In addition to a long list of additional benefits, members of The Wheel can look forward to:

  • Attending free regulation briefings and special events
  • Heavily discounted training in areas relevant to regulation
  • Regular email and newsletter updates featuring the latest regulation news and analysis.

Click here to explore membership fully now.


Training Resources

The Wheel provides expert training in a number of key areas pertaining to charity regulation. These subjects include governance, risk management, operational planning, fundraising / funding-related issues etc.

In particular, The Wheel's Governance  & Charity Regulation - a 2-day Survival Guide event offers a comprehensive package of supports to facilitate a deep and profound appreciation of public benefit trusteeship and what that means. 

Click here to browse The Wheel's Training Calendar in full.


Tailored Training from
The Wheel

In addition to The Wheel's training workshops and events, organisations can further benefit from a one-to-one tailored training from The Wheel. Delivered by The Wheel's senior management team and tailored to your organisation's specific needs, our training is offered in the areas of governance, risk management, outcomes and impacts, strategic planning and funding-related issues.

Click here to learn more now.


Good Practice Guides

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has partnered with The Wheel to produce the Sustainable Communities  guidebooks series, providing up to date advice on funding and governance for community-led groups throughout Ireland.

Chock full of ideas and resources, both handbooks' tips and tools can be tailored to fit your needs and guide you towards sustainability. Download the guides for free here

 Funding Guide (pdf)                    Governance Guide (pdf)

The Wheel's Solid Foundations series of good-practice guides reflect The Wheel’s commitment to strengthen the capacity of our members* and the wider sector, by providing relevant support on the shared issues affecting our sector. Topics covered in-depth include: collaboration; outcomes and impacts; governance; risk management; human resources.

These seven publications are an indispensable tool for community and voluntary organisations. 

Learn more here >>


The Wheel's Charity
Regulation Helpdesk 

Got a question about charity regulation, or any of the specific issues involved? Get in touch with The Wheel's Helpdesk and we'll do our best to help you.

Phone: (01) 253 1078

Email: regulation@wheel.ie

 

Policy Watch Blog

Subscribe to The Wheel's Policy Watch blog for interesting and informative updates and reflections about charity regulation, among a host of important issues, from The Wheel's Advocacy Unit.

Click here to visit the blog now.


External Links

The Charities Regulator: The Charities Regulator is Ireland's national statutory regulator for charitable organisations. The Charities Regulator is an independent authority and was established on the 16th of October 2014 under the Charities Act 2009. The key functions of the Regulator are to establish and maintain a public register of charitable organisations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts. 
www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie

Goodcharity.ie: an online resource addressing a number of key questions that are asked regularly by members of the public, pertaining to charity funding, salaries and regulation etc. www.goodcharity.ie

Boardmatch Ireland: Boardmatch Ireland supports the development of the community and voluntary sector (the not-for-profit sector) by strengthening boards and management committees. www.boardmatchireland.ie

Dóchas Code of Corporate Governance for NGOs: this code was developed to determine and formulate standards of best practice in corporate governance applicable to the Development NGO sector with a view to strengthening the impact and quality of Development NGO work and enhancing stakeholder confidence in the sector. www.dochas.ie

The Governance Code: a Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland (see relevant section above). www.governancecode.ie

Department of Justice & Equality: responsible for the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority and implementation of the Charities Act 2009. www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Charities