When the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA) was established on the 16th October 2014 its first task was the establishment of a statutory Register of Charities, with all charities operating in Ireland required to register with the CRA. In our recent blog, Is Your Charity Registered With The Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA)?, we set out how a charity can complete the registration process and provided details of the information required by the CRA.
1. Charities With Existing CHY Numbers
Charities with an existing CHY number, as provided by the Revenue Commissioners, were automatically registered with the CRA as the Revenue Commissioners had provided the CRA with the details required to complete the registration process. The CRA have written to each of these charities confirming their registration and advising them of how to create an account and update their charity’s details on the CRA website.
2. Extension Provided For All Other Charities
When the CRA was established, a period of six months was provided to charities to facilitate the registration process on the CRA website. This deadline passed on 16th April 2015. At that date it was reported that only 200 of the more than 4,000 charities in Ireland had completed the registration process. Due to such a low level of compliance the Minister for Justice, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald, had no choice but to extend the deadline by 12 months to 17th April 2016.
This seems a reasonable extension, given that it took the Government over 5 years to bring the Charities Act 2009 into force; however, a further extension is unlikely. If a charity has not registered by the extended deadline of 17th April 2016 both the charity and its trustees will be guilty of an offence. It is therefore vital that charities complete the registration before the extended deadline.
3. Who Is Required To Register With The CRA?
If you are an organisation who currently operates as a charity, or wishes to operate as a charity in the Republic of Ireland, you must register with the CRA. Organisations which fall into this category are those who intend to operate or carry on the following charitable activities in the State:
- A Charitable Trust
- A body corporate which promotes a charitable purpose only and must, according to its own constitution or rules, use all of its property to advance that purpose
- An unincorporated body of persons who promote a charitable purpose and must, according to its own constitution or rules, use all of its property to advance that purpose.
Section 3 of the Charities Act 2009 defines a charitable purpose as:
- The prevention or relief of poverty or economic hardship
- The advancement of education
- The advancement of religion
- Any other purpose that is of benefit to the community
Furthermore, the “purpose” shall not be a charitable purpose unless it is of public benefit.
The act also outlines those activities that are of benefit to the community. Details of such activities can be found here.
Next Steps For Charity Board Members
Over the coming weeks and months there will be an increased level of regulation and governance required of charities in Ireland. Such regulation and governance is aimed at improving the transparency and accountability of charities, while also creating enhanced public trust and confidence in charities. It is important that board members and trustees give these regulations due consideration. Accordingly we, at Roberts Nathan, will be running free seminars to assist both our clients and interested parties in their preparations for the changes which are on the horizon for the Charities Sector.
If you require assistance with the above or would like further information in relation to an upcoming seminar please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.