Developing a culture of openness in charities can be challenging because there are some things which are confidential and should be treated as such. However committees should consider where the boundaries are and how they can communicate with people about their organisations. The creation of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has given the public more access than ever to information about charities.
The Charities Act 2008 states that the purposes outlined in an organisation's governing document must be of benefit to the public for an organisation to be charitable. This is known as the public benefit requirement.
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland states that "Benefit is about the benefit flowing from the charity’s purposes. For a charity’s purposes to satisfy the benefit element of public benefit, that benefit must have three key features, it must:
Principle 3 - An effective board will provide good governance and leadership by ensuring delivery of organisational purpose
The board has ultimate responsibility for directing the activity of the organisation and delivering its stated purposes. It will do this by:
In Northern Ireland, a charity is defined as an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and is for the public benefit. If an organisation is established for one or more of the 12 descriptions of purposes listed below, and is for the public benefit, then it will be required to register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
The 12 descriptions of charitable purposes are: