Charities have hugely important role to play in our society

01Feb 2019
Editor
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Charities have hugely important role to play in our society

It is often mistakenly believed that charitable organisations and their volunteer activities are unimportant and of little consequence to a country’s economic system, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, charitable activities make a vital contribution to the economic, social and political sectors of a nation.In fact, the role of charitable organisations and volunteer work is no less important than the roles of the public and private sectors.Charities provide essential services that positively impact the lives of citizens, such as building hospitals, schools, orphanages and religious centres.

Every year, charities all over the world help to save and improve people’s lives, fighting disease, protecting children, and giving hope to many thousands of people. To honour the important work that these many charities do, in 2012 the United Nations decided to nominate an annual International Day of Charity as an official day of recognition and celebration. The reason the date was chosen is because it is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. This choice commemorates the tireless work that Mother Teresa did by devoting her whole life to charity work. To celebrate this special day every year, the work of different charities all over the word is publicised and celebrated, and people are encouraged to donate money and time, to carry out charitable works, and also to educate people and raise awareness about the many charitable issues worldwide. Education and giving are the essence of this special day.

Let no one be in any doubt. Our government believes in the dynamism of charities and their power to improve the quality of individuals’ lives and our national life. In ensuring all charities have to demonstrate how they fulfill their obligations in exchange for the benefits they receive, the government is creating the circumstances in which they will continue to flourish. It’s not only publicity-hungry celebrities that love a charity; everyone values the contribution of charities to our society, and I want that to continue. That can only happen if the public are confident they are getting a return from the status charities enjoy.

A charitable trust is an irrevocable trust established for charitable purposes and, in some jurisdictions, a more specific term than "charitable organisation". A charitable trust enjoys a varying degree of tax benefits in most countries. It also generates good will. Some important terminology in charitable trusts is the term ‘corpus’ (Latin for ‘body’) which refers to the assets with which the trust is funded and the term ‘donor’ which is the person donating assets to a charity.

In India, trusts set up for the social causes and approved by the Income Tax Department get not only exemption from payment of tax but also the donors to such trusts can deduct the amount of donation to the trust from their taxable income. The legal framework in India recognises activities including "relief of the poor, education, medical relief, preserving monuments and environment and the advancement of any other object of general public utility" as charitable purposes. In England and Wales, charitable trusts are a form of express trust dedicated to charitable goals. There are a variety of advantages to charitable trust status, including exemption from most forms of tax and freedom for the trustees not found in other types of English trust. To be a valid charitable trust, the organisation must demonstrate both a charitable purpose and a public benefit.

Charitable trusts are not allowed to be run for profit, nor can they have purposes that are not charitable (unless these are ancillary to the charitable purpose). In addition, it is considered unacceptable for charitable trusts to campaign for political or legal change, although discussing political issues in a neutral manner is acceptable. Charitable trusts, as with other trusts, are administered by trustees, but there is no relationship between the trustees and the beneficiaries.