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What is a charity?

To be a charity, an organisation must have purposes which are charitable. Voluntary organisations are not necessarily all eligible to register as charities, and organisations with paid staff may be eligible to register.

Charitable purposesĀ are usually defined under 4 headings:

  • Relief of poverty (now defined more broadly as relief of financial hardship)
  • Advancement of education
  • Advancement of religion
  • Certain other purposes beneficial to the community

However for registration purposes it should be noted that the final decision regarding charitable status on the Isle of Man lies with the Central Registry.

Why start a charity?

There are many good reasons for starting a new charity. There are still social needs which are not being met by government agencies or other welfare organisations or charities. New charities can be flexible enough to help local and minority needs, and can often get help where it is needed very quickly. The creation of more smaller charities can often encourage more people to become involved with charities because people are more likely to help a small, local organisation that is being run by friends than a larger organisation which can seem impersonal and appear to have all the help that it needs.

If you want to do voluntary work, or help a particular cause, it is a good first step to see if there is already a charity that is doing what you want to do, and offering to help them. If you want to provide a service that no other charity provides, it may still be worthwhile approaching established charities to see if they would like to provide that service, with your help - it may be something that an established charity would like to do, but does not have the available people to do it.

Many people start charities because they wish to commemorate family members or friends - while many of these charities thrive and continue, others eventually fade away because the underlying reason for starting the charity was a need for the therapeutic benefits of starting the charity, to help cope with the loss of a loved one. In these cases, once the grieving and healing process has been worked through, people lose interest in the charity, and it ceases to exist. Often, a more lasting memorial can best be created through co-operation with an existing charity, by the creation of a named fund, or purchasing assets for the charity in the name of the loved one.

Setting up and running a charity involves quite a lot of administrative work and organisation, and needs several people to share the work if the charity is going to start up and run successfully.

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