The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (“CCNI”) introduced compulsory registration of charities on 16 December 2013. This new regulation will affect most if not all canoe clubs within Northern Ireland.
If your Club is not a registered Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or it is not already registered as a charity it may need to register with CCNI as a charity. If your club is considered to be a charity the Trustees/Committee are legally obligated to apply to CCNI to register the Club as a charity (Expression of Intent)
What is a charity?
“Charity” means an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and falls to be subject to the control of the Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities.
To be a charity in Northern Ireland an organisation:
- Must have purposes which fall under one of 12 descriptions of charitable purposes listed in the Charities (NI) Act 2008, and
- The purposes must be for the public benefit.
- Purposes are what the charity was set up to achieve. This is different to ‘activities’, which means what the charity does in order to carry out its purposes
- A charity’s purposes will normally be set out in a governing document
- Promotion of Amateur Sport – one of the 12 charitable purposes
Is a canoe club a charity?
For a canoe club to be deemed a charity it must promote amateur sport. Sport means sports or games which promote health by involving physical or mental skill or exertion. An organisation advancing amateur sport can only be charitable if each of the following apply to it:
- It involves the advancement of a sport or game
- The sport or game promotes health by involving physical or mental skill or exertion
- The participants are ‘amateur’, not professional
- The organisation has purposes that are exclusively charitable
- It is for the public benefit
(Most if not all canoe clubs would be classed as charitable)
Requirements for clubs
Your club must fill in an Expression of Intent form to indicate that you think your club may be charitable and the club will then be called forward to register. The CCNI have published Tranche Lists on their website which lists the organisations that have been called forward to register and those who will be called next. Once you are called to register you have three months to complete your online registration form and then the CCNI have three months to raise any queries about the information that you have provided. You must also provide a signed governing document, copy bank statement and signed Trustee Declarations from each member of your committee.
Application for registration is compulsory if your organisation is, or could be, charitable. Failure to apply to register, or failing to supply us with the required documents and information, is a breach of trustee duties under the Charities Act and ultimately will result in the loss of recognition as a charity, including for tax purposes.
How will the Charity Commission N.I (CCNI) assess your application to become a charity?
- Check purposes fall within one of the 12 descriptions of charitable purposes of which amateur sport is one
- Determine whether organisation’s purposes meet the public benefit requirement
- Ensure purposes are exclusively charitable
- Ensure trustees are eligible to act as trustees
- Trustees have duties and responsibilities to their charity, its supporters and beneficiaries