Types of Nonprofits in Tonga

Cersai Stark

Cersai Stark

The various types of nonprofits in the Pacific Islands, particularly Tonga, have traditionally been distinguished by their affiliation with the community and churches. As a result, Tonga’s civil society growth is strongly related to the historical significance of the nation’s churches. This also includes the rank evolution and the monarchy as well as the country’s move toward democracy.

In this article, we will consider the various types of nonprofits in Tonga and their operations. 


Types of nonprofits
Types of nonprofits


  • Tonga has a strong and vibrant nonprofit network that has greatly impacted the nation’s growth.
  • Churches have a significant influence on the country’s educational system.
  • Nonprofits also work together to maximize impact and development in the nation. 


What are the types of nonprofits in Tonga?

In Tonga, nonprofits may be established as membership or non-membership-based organizations. However, these entities can be grouped into three major classes.

1. Charitable Trusts

These types of nonprofits operate exclusively or largely for philanthropic purposes and are subject to the Charitable Trusts Act. In line with this Act, the trustees may apply to the Registrar for incorporation of the trust.

The name of a trust must not be identical with any board that is already operating in Tonga. Any case such as this will hinder the incorporation of the trust. 

In the event of a Board winding up, the trust must follow the rules laid out for the winding up of a company under the Companies Act. Likewise, after all expenses, debts, and liabilities have been paid, the Court shall dispose of any excess assets to the charity, board, or trust.

2. Incorporated Societies

Incorporated Societies comprise organizations consisting of not fewer than five persons associated for any legitimate purposes but not for pecuniary benefit. The Incorporated Societies Act governs these types of nonprofits.

By and large, no application may be submitted without the approval of the majority of the society’s members.

In general, society members are not vested with the right to any property of the organization. Exceptions are only taken if the Act or the regulations of a society makes room for them. Likewise, a society’s membership shall not subject the members to contract, debt, or other obligation created or incurred by the society unless expressly stated otherwise in this Act.

3. Co-operative Societies

Co-operative Societies are created to promote the economic interests of their members in accordance with cooperative principles. Hence, the Cooperative Societies Act governs these types of nonprofits. 

A society becomes a body corporate with perpetual succession by the name under which it is registered. Thus, the society can retain properties, engage in contracts, bring and defend legal claims and take any other actions required by its constitution. 

Every registered society must maintain a copy of the Act, the Rules, its by-laws, and a list of its members at its registered address at all times. This is to ensure availability in the situation of a free public inspection.

What are the primary activities and impacts of nonprofits in Tonga?

Generally, churches have contributed significantly to the formation of Tongan society as well as the various types of nonprofits. By and large, over 90% of high schools are run by missionaries, according to Scholaro Database. Hence, churches have a significant influence on the country’s educational system.

However, the growth of trade unions is one area where nonprofits are lacking. Although the constitution guarantees the right to free association, rules governing collective bargaining or trade union registration are yet to be published. 

Likewise, Tonga does not have any official or recognized trade unions. De facto trade union representation is provided by the Public Service Association. This was created at the start of the general strike in 2005. Also, the Tonga Nurses Association (located in New Zealand) and the Friendly Islands Teachers Association are incorporated but not registered trade unions. 


Tonga has a strong and vibrant nonprofit network that has greatly impacted the nation’s growth. Additionally, Tongan NGOs are becoming more active in campaigning and public awareness. Nonprofits are also known to work quite well together. They collaborate to maximize impact and development and are well-acquainted with each other’s activities. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share your comments and suggestions with us at the bottom of this post. 

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