An organisation had registered their charity, and intended to hold and manage property to make money for the charity. This included collecting rent from the property and paying expenses to maintain the property.

The trustees were concerned that these commercial activities may not be constituted as advancing their charitable purpose, as they worried that managing property and collecting rent was not charitable.

When considering an application to register a charity, Charities Services will have regard to the activities and proposed activities of the entity seeking charitable status, as well as the governing documents of the entity. The inquiry will not be focused on whether the activities itself are inherently charitable, but rather whether the activities are carried out to further the entity’s charitable purpose.

In general, both when registering as a charity, and going forward, as long as the trustees fulfil their mandatory obligations and ensure their actions are not inconsistent with their charity’s purpose, there is generally no additional restriction on the types of activities an entity can engage in.

What matters is what the funds are used for (i.e: applied towards) rather than what activities they come from.

If you are unsure about whether your organisation would be able to be registered as a charity, or whether you are meeting your existing rules, it pays to take advice from a lawyer experienced in charities law.

Claire Tyler