Types of Nonprofits in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Cersai Stark

Cersai Stark

The legal framework of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is based on the common law system of the United Kingdom. Hence, the various types of nonprofits are similar to what exists in the UK. 

In this article, we will consider the types of nonprofits in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as well as their operations. 


Types of nonprofits
Types of nonprofits


  • The societal development of a nation largely hinges on the provisions and activities of the various types of nonprofits 
  • Government entities must come up with favorable policies to help nonprofits thrive and effectively perform their roles. 
  • NGOs and civil societies should ensure that the voice and needs of local populations are taken into account in the formulation of development projects


What are the types of nonprofits in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

There are four nonprofit classes recognized in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We will go further to outline each of them briefly.

1. International Trust

The International Trusts Act of 1996 governs these types of nonprofits. An international trust may be established to further humanitarian endeavors. Hence, the following objectives are considered charitable: alleviating poverty; advancing education; advancing religion; protecting the environment; advancing or defending human rights and fundamental freedoms; or any other community-beneficial objectives.

Before the trust is registered, a Registered Trustee of an international trust may submit a written request to the Authority. This is to ask for a written decision on whether a particular objective qualifies as a charitable purpose. Additionally, any application under this section is required to follow the rules published by the governing Authority. 

Only a written document that complies with the formal specifications for a deed or settlement under the applicable trust law may establish an international trust. However, the maximum duration of an international trust shall be one hundred and twenty (120) years after the date of its creation. Likewise, the terms of a trust instrument may specify the duration or date of termination of the trust.

An international trust is exempt from the “rule against perpetuities” and “rule against accumulations” in law and equity.

2. Friendly Societies 

Presently, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Friendly Societies Act 2021 has superseded the Friendly Societies Act of 1843. By and large, these types of nonprofits are founded for several reasons. However, the primary objective is to offer members life insurance benefits, ill benefits, and death benefits. Other purposes include offering non-members advantages and promoting specific hobbies or interests.

By special resolution, a registered society may choose to become a company under the Companies Act 2014. Also, these entities may choose to merge with another company or transfer their obligations to another company. 

Following registration, a society is required to have an authorized statutory auditor annually to audit its financial records. Hence, organizations must submit an annual return to the Registrar by the following 31 May, including the audited financial statements. A society risks legal action as well as the cancellation of its registration if it fails to submit an annual return.

3. Cooperative Societies

Cooperative Societies are governed by the Cooperative Societies Act. These types of nonprofits comprise a group of people who come together to promote their main goal of advancing the financial interests of members.

The Act establishes guidelines for just, open, and lawful cooperatives that support the social and economic advancement of their neighborhood. To this end, the Act includes provisions for the certification and registration of cooperative societies and the Registrar’s responsibilities and powers. It also entails the requirements for joining cooperative societies, and meeting procedures.

In general, credit unions, consumers’ cooperative societies, housing cooperative societies, and industrial cooperative societies are all examples of cooperatives defined by this Act.

By an order that is published in the Official Gazette, the Minister has the authority to exempt cooperatives from being subject to customs duties, value-added tax, excise taxes, environmental levies, and customs service charges. Similarly, Cooperatives may also set up development funds, and pension funds, and contribute to philanthropic endeavors, community development, and cultural advancement.

Basically, the mutual aid and benefit principle underlies the operation of the cooperative society. As a result, the principle of service governs how it operates.

4. Company Limited by Guarantee

The Limited Liability Companies Act, 2008 may be used to register these types of nonprofits. Hence, the Act address matters connected to the formation, management, and operation of limited liability organizations.

Commonly, these nonprofits often comprise sports clubs, workers’ cooperatives, and membership organizations. These entities seek to benefit from limited financial liability which accompanies companies limited by guarantee.

In contrast to the more popular limited-by-shares structure, a company limited by guarantee is owned by guarantors who promise to contribute a certain sum of money toward the business’s debts.

Furthermore, revenues won’t often be dispersed to the guarantors. This is because they’ll be reinvested back into the organization to advance its nonprofit goals. However, if owners receive any gains, the corporation will lose its entitlement to any earnings.

What are the impacts of the nonprofits in St Vincent and the Grenadines?

In general, churches, NGOs, civic clubs, and neighborhood associations are known for their social development support services to the underprivileged. Likewise, the various types of nonprofits in St Vincent and the Grenadines provide basic services to citizens. This includes helping people with their essential needs like food, shelter, and clothing to creating community programs for adults in literacy, and math, among others. Nonprofits in the country also offer child care services; self-employment programs for youth; and assist in identifying opportunities in micro-enterprise. 

However, their limited capacity to obtain financial resources frequently restricts the rate of help and development. Like other Caribbean nations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a critical stage of development. After overcoming the initial difficulties of a post-colonial economy, the nation has faced a number of financial, economic, political, and other issues. This in turn has negatively impacted its efforts to improve the welfare of its citizens. 

To address some of these critical issues in the nation, the National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) was established. This council incorporated members from the main political parties, nonprofit organizations, and interest groups. Basically, the responsibility of the council is to analyze the economy critically and offer suggestions for dealing with new or ongoing issues.

Conclusion (Types of Nonprofits in St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

The societal development of a nation largely hinges on the provisions and activities of the various types of nonprofits. Chiefly, these entities help individuals assert their rights and also impact development policies and practices. As a result, government entities must come up with favorable policies to help nonprofits thrive and effectively perform their roles. 

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