charity(redirected from Charity (disambiguation))
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
n. 1) in general the sentiment of benevolence, doing good works, assisting the less fortunate, philanthropy, and contributing to the general public. 2) an organization which exists to help those in need or provide educational, scientific, religious and artistic assistance to members of the public. Charities are usually corporations established under state guidelines and require IRS approval in order for contributions to them to be deductible from gross income by donors.
charitythe giving of money to help the needy or a body that is established to administer such donations. The concept of charity dates from a permission given by the Emperor Constantine allowing subjects to make bequests to the church. This facility came to be so abused that it was severely restricted by the Emperor Valentinian; this restraint was, however, gradually relaxed so that by the time of Justinian it had become a fixed maxim of the civil law that bequests to pious uses were entitled to privileged treatment. In English law, the State of Charitable Uses Act of 1601 codified the received law up to that point, and the preamble to that statute still provides the starting point for the definition of charity in modern law. This, according to the House of Lords, comprises gifts for the relief of poverty, for the advancement of religion, for the advancement of education, and for other purposes beneficial to the community not falling under any of the preceding heads but within the words or spirit of the Act of 1601. A charitable trust is treated more favourably than others, in that it is not subject to the rule against PERPETUITIES, it is not subject to the beneficiary principle that requires that trusts be for the benefit of persons rather than of purposes, and it attracts favourable tax treatment. To qualify as charitable, however, a gift must be exclusively charitable, that is, it must be so conditioned that no part of it can be devoted to any non-charitable purpose. If a charitable gift fails because the object no longer exists or the purpose has been satisfied, the gift maybe applied CY PRES to the satisfaction of similar charitable purposes. Charities are under the general jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners in England and Wales and the Lord Advocate in Scotland. In Scotland, for tax purposes, charity and charitable purposes are to be interpreted according to English law.
CHARITY. In its widest sense it denotes all the good affections which men ought to bear towards each other; 1 Epistle to Cor. c. xiii.; in its most restricted and usual sense, it signifies relief to the poor. This species of charity is a mere moral duty, which cannot be enforced by the law. Kames on Eq. 17. But it is not employed in either of these senses in law; its signification is derived chiefly from the statute of 43 Eliz. c. 4. Those purposes are considered charitable which are enumerated in that act, or which by analogy are deemed within its spirit and intendment. 9 Ves. 405; 10 Ves, 541; 2 Vern. 387; Shelf. Mortm. 59. Lord Chancellor Camden describes a charity to be a gift to a general public use, which extends to the rich as well as to the poor. Ambl. 651; Boyle on Charities, 51; 2 Ves. sen. 52; Ambl. 713; 2 Ves. jr. 272; 6 Ves. 404; 3 Rawle, 170; 1 Penna. R. 49 2 Dana, 170; 2 Pet. 584; 3 Pet. 99, 498 9 Cow. 481; 1 Hawks, 96; 12 Mass. 537; 17 S. & R. 88; 7 Verm. 241; 5 Harr. & John. 392; 6 Harr. & John. 1; 9 Pet. 566; 6 Pet. 435; 9 Cranch, 331; 4 Wheat. 1; 9 Wend. 394; 2 N. H. Rep. 21, 510; 9 Cow. 437; 7 John. Cb. R. 292; 3 Leigh. 450; 1 Dev. Eq. Rep. 276; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3976, et seq.