Jamaican laws have very clear stipulations about what constitutes a charity or a charitable organisation, and what does not. If you are thinking of establishing a charity, or have already started one and are considering registration, etc, here are some key points that you should be familiar with, coming from the Charities Act 2013, which is the main piece of legislation in the nation concerning charities.

According to the Charities Act 2013:

A charitable organisation is:
(a) a charitable trust; or
(b) any institution, whether incorporated or not, which
(i) is established for a charitable purpose exclusively;
(ii) is intended to and does operate for the public benefit; and
(iii) has no part of its net income or assets enuring to the personal benefit of any governing board member of settlor of the organisation, or of any other private individual
but shall not include an excluded body.

A charitable trust means a trust that:
(a) is established for charitable purpose exclusively;
(b) is established under a deed of trust that requires the trustees of the trust to apply all of the property (both real and personal) of the trust in furtherance of that purpose except for moneys expended in the management of the trust;
(c) has no part of its net income or assets enuring to the personal benefit of any governing board member of settlor of the organisation, or of any other private individual

The Charities Act lists charitable purposes as:

  1. The prevention or relief of poverty.
  2. The advancement of education.
  3. The advancement of religion.
  4. The advancement of health or saving of lives.
  5. The advancement of good citizenship of community development.
  6. The advancement of the arts, culture and heritage, or science.
  7. The advancement of amateur sport.
  8. The advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation.
  9. The promotion of religious of racial harmony or equality and diversity.
  10. The advancement of environmental protection or improvement.
  11. The relief of those in need because of youth, advanced age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage (including temporary disadvantages, such as the effects of a public disaster or public emergency).
  12. The promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces or the efficiency of the police forces.
  13. The advancement of animal welfare.
  14. A purpose specified by the Minister, by order, subject to negative resolution of the house of Representatives, as being analogous to a purpose mentioned in paragraphs 1 to 13.


See a list of registered charities in Jamaica: Tax Administration Jamaica’s List of Registered Charities OR Companies Office of Jamaica listing

Source: THE STAR, Jamaica’s Charities Act, Tax Administration Jamaica