What is charity? Charity is to give to others that which belongs to you. When you give to charity, you experience happiness. Do you know why? Because when you let go of something that you love, you give happiness to others. For most people that one thing is money. Even if you have the slightest thought of taking away something from others, you yourself create various obstructions and difficulties in your life.
Spiritual Science places more importance on the inner intent (cause) than on the action (effect) of giving to charity. Charity done with the unity of the mind, speech and conduct receives tremendous benefits. The one who donates willingly and happily reaps more benefits than the one who donates under pressure or with the expectation of return. Your intention should be to lessen the other person’s misery, not to gain fame or fortune.
There are rules that all charities have to follow:
A charity’s aims have to fall into categories that the law says are charitable. These are things like preventing or relieving poverty, or advancing the arts, culture, heritage or science.
It has to be established exclusively for what is known as public benefit (see below). That means its only purpose must be charitable.
Charities can’t make profits. All the money they raise has to go towards achieving their aims. A charity can’t have owners or shareholders who benefit from it.
Charities have to state what their charitable objectives are in order to be registered with the Charity Commission, and then explain how they are meeting them in their annual reports, which are publicly available. You can read more about how charities make themselves accountable in the accountability and transparency section.
To be a charity, an organisation has to:
Be of benefit
It has to do positive things, and if there are negative side-effects or consequences, these must be outweighed by its positive work.
Benefit the public
This doesn’t have to mean all of the public. It could mean everyone in a geographic area, or everyone with a specific characteristic, such as people with cancer, or who work in teaching.
It’s up to the Charity Commission to decide whether an organisation passes the public benefit test. It does this on the basis of its guidance, and by looking at case law.
Read more: The Charity Commission: Public benefit: an overview