The definition of charity varies according to country, state, territory and territory code.
For example, in Australia, it is a charitable organisation and may be limited by tax law.
The definition below is used by Australian charities, while the definition used by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is for other international organisations such as UNICEF, World Vision and Oxfam.
The Australian code is listed in the table below.
The International Rescue Coordination Centre (IRC), on the other hand, is a non-profit organisation.
It provides assistance in various humanitarian and social relief situations, including to refugees, internally displaced persons, those displaced in conflict, and those who have suffered extreme poverty.
For more information on this, see: Who is a charity?
What is a recognised charity?
When is a Charity a Charity?
What does the word charity mean?
Find out what charity means in the following list of Australian laws.
What are the rules?
The Australian Code of Charities and Unions is a national code of laws for charitable organisations.
There are three main sections: section 41, section 42, and section 53.
This code provides guidance on how a charity is to operate and is based on a charitable purpose.
For some charities, this is not always the case.
For instance, the IRC may have a special purpose, but that may not apply in the circumstances of a non‑recognised charity.
A charity’s special purpose may be to assist a needy person or group of people in a particular way.
If this is the case, the charity is a registered charity.
For details on what is a statutory purpose for a charity, see the section on statutory purposes in the Australian Charities, Unions and Unincorporated Associations Code.
What is the Australian Government’s definition of a charity and what are the differences?
The Government’s Code of Australian Laws, published in October 2017, defines a charity as: an organisation established by a person who is or was a charity administrator; a registered charitable body (the Registered Charity Body Act); or an organisation that provides services to a needy or needy-in-need person.
In general, the definition includes organisations that are recognised charities, or that operate under a registered name.
If the definition does not include an organisation, the code does not define it.
For a charity’s statutory purpose, the section 41(1)(d) section (which includes section 42) of the Code of Acts is the relevant part of the code.
Section 41(2) of this code provides for a charitable institution that: has a financial interest in a person’s business; or that acts in an official capacity, or performs any duty under a law that deals with a person.
A charitable body or a registered body is one of the following: a charity which is a legal entity, a legal corporation, a partnership, a trust, or a corporation; a recognised charitable body, or an recognised registered charity; or an entity, partnership, trust, trust partnership or corporation that provides a service.
What do charities have to do?
As part of their charitable function, charities have certain responsibilities.
The key part is that they have to be able to deliver a service that meets the needs of a particular group or person.
They also have to ensure that the service meets the standards set out in section 6 of the Charities Act 2003.
For examples of how charities can meet these standards, see section 6.
The Code of Conduct and Procedures (CCP) of Australian Charitable Organizations outlines these responsibilities and outlines the procedures and rules that charities must follow.
The charity must: ensure that its work is carried out in accordance with its duty under section 43 of the Australian Taxation Office Act 1989 (Taxation of Contributions and Expenditures); and