How are charities regulated in Ireland?
The Charities Regulatory Authority (Charities Regulator) regulates charities in Ireland. It maintains a public register of charities and monitors their compliance with the Charities Act 2009. This Act sets out what an organisation must do to be recognised as a charity and the legal obligations for operating as a charity in Ireland.
To be considered a charity, an organisation must:
- Operate in the Republic of Ireland (though its target group can be elsewhere)
- Exist for a charitable purpose and exclusively promote this purpose (a charitable purpose is a goal that is of public benefit)
- Not be an excluded body (such as a trade union, chamber of commerce etc.)
The organisation must first give the Regulator information about itself, so the Regulator can assess if it meets the requirements to be a charity. If the Regulator approves the application, it awards the organisation charitable status, gives it a Registered Charity Number and lists it on the charities register. You can search the charities register on charitiesregister.ie.
It is an offence for an organisation to describe itself as a charity and carry out charitable activities, if it is not registered with the Charities Regulator.
The Regulator can appoint an inspector to investigate a charity’s affairs. The charity and its trustees must co-operate fully and give the inspector all the relevant accounts and documents.
The Regulator can choose to take a charity off the register – for example, if it fails to comply with its financial obligations or give the Regulator the information it requires.
If you are concerned about a charity or its activities, you can raise a concern with the Charities Regulator.