Charity Regulation

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland was founded in 2009 as a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Social Development.

The Commission is the independent regulator of Charities in Northern Ireland.  It is responsible for ensuring Northern Ireland has has a dynamic and well governed charity sector in which the public can have confidence.

The Commission, as the regulator of all charities operating in Northern Ireland, has the following aims:  

  • Public confidence - to increase public trust and confidence in charities.
  • Public benefit - to promote awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement.
  • Compliance - to promote compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations in exercising control and management of the administration of their charities.
  • Charitable resources objective - to promote the effective use of charitable resources.
  • Accountability - to enhance the accountability of charities to donors, beneficiaries and the general public.
  • Delivery - to manage the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland as an effective and efficient non departmental public body.

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s current powers

The Commission has a range of powers which impact on how Trustees manage their charities.  

  • Annual Reporting:  It is a legal requirement for charities registered with the Commission to report annually to the Commission. 
  • Authorising Transations:  The Charity Commission has powers to authorise transactions which the Charity may not legally make on its own.
  • Mergers and Closures:  The Charity Commission maintains a register of mergers between charities and registered charities must notify the Commission before they close.    
  • Changing your Charity's name:  In some cases Charities may need permission from the Commission to change the name of the organisation.
  • Consents for Charitable Companies:  Some changes to a charitable company's articles of association must be approved by the Charity Commission before they can happen.
  • New powers for unincorporated charities:   Some unincorporated charities may not have the powers to do certain things in relation to their purposes or assets without permission from the Commission.
  • Requesting a Scheme:    A scheme is a legal document, made by the Commission, which changes, replaces or extends the trusts of a charity.
  • Register your Charity:   An orgnisation, regardless of size, must apply for registration if it is operating for charitable purposes, governed by the law of Northern Ireland and has control and direction over its governance and resources. 
  • Concerns about charities:   The Commission has a role in making sure charities are run effectively and in receiving, assessing and investigating complaints about charities.   

Please see NICVA’s dedicated charity regulation webpage for the latest information on new charity regulations.