Charities must provide benefit to the public, not to a specific individual. Their aims, purposes or objectives have to be exclusively those which the law recognises as charitable. A registered charity will usually be given a special tax status and benefit from a number of tax exemptions and reliefs.
Prevention or relief of povertyAdvancement of educationAdvancement of health or saving of livesAdvancement of citizenship or community developmentAdvancement of arts, culture, heritage or scienceAdvancement of amateur sportAdvancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversityAdvancement of environmental protection or improvementRelief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantageAdvancement of animal welfarePromotion of efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown or the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue or ambulance servicesAny other purposes recognised as charitable under the Act - this last item covers a charitable purpose that is within the spirit of the above purposes and is a mechanism for future development of the list of charitable purposes
Perhaps the most egregious example uncovered as yet is Alcohol Concern. Out of an income in one year of just shy of £1 million, 57% came from the Department of Health...and yes, Alcohol Concern has been and is quite vociferous in its lobbying of the Department of Health on how access to alcohol can and should be restricted. Private donations were a tad shy of £5,000 (yes, that's five thousand, not five hundred thousand nor even fifty thousand) so their income from real people actually supporting their efforts was less than 0.5% of their total income. It's extremely difficult to see that this is a charity and even more difficult to see why they should been given any credence whatsoever in the media.