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A charity's legal structure affects many things, such as its legal identity (whether it can be sued), its governance structure (who makes what types of decisions), who is liable for its debts and its specific responsibilities, such as what its reporting or other compliance obligations are.

A legal structure can be incorporated or unincorporated.

The most common incorporated legal structures for charities (and other not-for-profits) include incorporated associations, companies limited by guarantee, non-trading co-operatives, and Indigenous corporations.

Charities that are unincorporated could be trusts, or unincorporated associations (a less formal structure, with no separate legal identity).

See our guidance about legal structures.