The practice of 'charity', performed by philanthropists and Bill Gates is in no way a modern concept - it has been around for hundreds of years. Within the Middle Ages charity was mainly associated with the church and also the giving of alms to the poor. Medieval hospitals were also a popular type of charity - they provided shelter for the poor, elderly as well as sick. It could be argued, however, that organisations of modern day charity can be found in the Charitable Uses Act of 1601, also referred to as the Statute of Elizabeth. This particular act was part of an over-all reordering of the system of public duties for the poor. This included a list of actions that the State deemed of an advantage to society and to which it wished to encourage donations. This act transformed 'charity' into something more like the system we have today. Since that time a large number of charities have been established. The Victorian era, in particular, observed a large increase in the amount of charitable organisations like Barnado's and also the Salvation Army. This was mainly a reaction to the restrictive character of the Poor Law. Today there are over 180,000 registered, charities in England and also Wales.
Exactly what is a charity by today's standards? In general a charitable organisation is one that is philanthropic and also non-profit. The legal definition of a charitable organisation, still, depends upon the country. According to the Charity Commission any organisation can be considered a charity when it is established under the law of England and Wales and it is established for charitable purposes. You will find thousands of registered charities and even more small charities that do not have to register. Most charities in Britain and Wales have below £100,000 within annual income. Only a fairly small proportion of the total charities have over a million in yearly income.
The 'charitable purposes' which define a charity in England and Wales include an array of different principles. Charity actions or organisations can be viewed as a charity if it's working to the prevention/relief of poverty or if it is working towards relief for all those in need (e. g. sickness, disability, age). If an organisation is doing work towards the advancement of education, future health, religion, environmental safety, communities, culture and heritage, equal rights or animal welfare it is also considered a charity. Lastly, if an organisation is attempting to promote the efficiency of the armed forces, the police, fire, ambulance as well as rescue services it can gain charity reputation.