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Related to Charities: Red Cross, UNICEF


Organizations created for the purpose of philanthropic rather than pecuniary pursuits.

A charity is a group designed to benefit society or a specific group of people. Its purpose may be educational, humanitarian, or religious. A charity goes beyond giving relief to the indigent, extending to the promotion of happiness and the support of many worthy causes.

The law favors charities because they promote goodwill and lessen the government's burdens. They are therefore ordinarily exempt from paying income or property taxes.

Charitable Gifts and Trusts

A charitable gift is something that is donated by an individual or organization with the intent to benefit the public or some segment of it as a whole. It is meant for use by an indefinite number of people. Similarly, charitable trusts or public trusts are trusts of religious, political, or general social interests, or for the relief of poverty or the advancement of education.

Charities are ordinarily supported by gifts from donors and most states have set forth statutes controlling the manner in which funds are solicited for charities. In addition, the state will generally require charities to disclose their financial structure and condition.

Charitable gifts are often testamentary, or created by will. If there is a problem in determining the actual donative intent of the testator, the court might have to pass on his or her intent.

Cy Pres is a doctrine applied by a court so that it can carry out a trust made by will for charitable purposes even when the testator's charitable purpose can not be accomplished in the precise manner specified by the testator. For example, if a testator wished to donate money to a certain hospital whose name had changed, for example, this would not defeat the gift. With cy-pres the court would interpret the donor's intent to be to give money to the hospital in spite of the change of name.

Charitable Societies and Institutions

To determine whether an institution is charitable, the test is whether its major purpose is to aid others or to make a profit.

Charitable corporations are nonprofit corporations that have been created to minister to the physical needs of the indigent or to advance a particular goal, such as the aid of a particular religious group or country. In order to receive a tax-exempt status, such organizations must meet certain criteria.

Ordinarily, charitable corporations have no capital stock and they obtain their funds primarily from private and public charity. These funds are held in trust to serve the charitable objects of the institutions.

Beneficial associations also exist mainly for a charitable purpose and not for financial gain.

Religious organizations, such as the Young Men's and Women's Christian Associations and the Salvation Army, are also considered to be charitable societies.

The test for determining whether or not an educational institution is a charitable organization is the question of whether it exists for a public purpose or for a private gain.

While charities may charge a nominal fee for some of their services and still be considered charitable societies, they are organized primarily for the public good and not for profit.

References in periodicals archive ?
Separately, the Commission scrutinised a random sample of 109 accounts of charities with incomes of under 25k to examine their overall quality.
Previously there hasn't been a focal point through which to celebrate the strength of North-east charities - and that's where the awards come into play.
Previously there hasn't been a focal point through which to celebrate the strength of North East charities - and that's where the awards come into play.
The registered charity information return has been revised to take into account these new legislative requirements for charities to provide additional details about their political activities.
Vital local services delivered by charities in communities across Wales - such as cancer and hospice care - would be directly threatened, the association claims.
Charities in Canada must be registered through Canada Revenue Agency's Charities Directorate.
Though the downturn means more people ask for help, charities are struggling against rising costs, so every pound is really needed.
The Charity Commission is waiting for important information from nearly 300 of the city's 1,147 registered charities.
As the trust's income greatly exceeded these monthly payments, the remaining income was divided among several charities.
The public benefit concept is not spelled out in the bill and will be determined by the Charities Commission, an independent charities regulator for England and Wales.
Despite official Vatican policy denouncing adoption by gays as "violence" against children, several Catholic Charities offices are helping same-sex couples to adopt.