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9. Have you written the organisation’s charitable purposes?

Published: 16/04/2024
Updated: 30/04/2024

A charity’s purposes say what the aims of the charity are and what it has been set up to achieve. They might also be called its objects or aims. Purposes are set out in a charity’s governing document. Information governing documents is available in the next section.

The purposes should reflect broad aims rather than the day-to-day activities. Anyone reading them in your governing document should be able to get a clear picture of what your organisation intends to do.

Each purpose you have must fit within at least one of the charitable purposes set out in the 2005 Act.  You do not have to use the wording from the charitable purposes in the Act, as long as it is easy to see from your organisation’s purposes how they relate to the ones set out in the Act.

We recommend you get advice on writing your charitable purposes. Your local Third Sector Interface may be able to help you as well as other some other organisations.

Please note: Unclear or badly worded charitable purposes can lead to delays with applications and in some cases refusals.

How to word charitable purposes

Each purpose you have must fit within at least one of the 16 charitable purposes set out in the 2005 Act. You only need to have one charitable purpose to meet this requirement of the charity test. Generally, the more charitable purposes an organisation has, the more information we need in your application about how you will advance them. 

You could use the following wording to structure your purposes:

‘To advance…        [charitable purpose] by… [very brief outline of activities]’

‘To promote…        [charitable purpose] by… [very brief outline of activities]’

‘To provide…          [charitable purpose] by… [very brief outline of activities]’

 ‘To relieve…           [charitable purpose] by… [very brief outline of activities]’      


Before you begin writing charitable purposes, please read our Meeting the charity test guidance for more information.