Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    Philanthropic; humane; having a desire or purpose to do good to men; intended for the conferring of benefits, rather than for gain or profit. This word is certainly more indefinite, and of far wider range, than "charitable" or "religious;" it would include all gifts prompted by good-will or kind feeling towards the recipient, whether an obj'ect of charity or not. The natural and usuni meaning of the word would so extend it. It has no legal meaning separate from its usual meaning. "Charitable" has acquired a settled limited meaning in law, which confines it within known limits. But in all the decisions in England on the subject it has been held that a devise or bequest for benevolent objects, or in trust to give to such objects, is too indefinite, and therefore void. Norris v. Thomson. 19 N. J. Eq. 313; Thomson v. Norris, 20 N. J. Eq. 523; Suter v. Hilliard, 132 Mass. 413, 42 Am. Rep. 444; Fox v. Gibbs, 86 Me. 87, 29 Atl. 940. This word, as applied to objects or purposes, may refer to those which are in their nature charitable, and may also have a broader meaning and include objects and purposes not charitable in the legal sense of that word. Acts of kindness, friendship, forethought, or goodwill might properly be described as benevolent. It has therefore been held that gifts to trustees to be applied for "benevolent purposes" at their discretion, or to such "benevolent purposes" as they could agree upon, do not create a public charity. But where the word is used in connection with other words explanatory of its meaning, and indicating the intent of the donor to limit it to purposes strictly charitable, it has been held to be synonymous with, or equivalent to, "charitable." Suter v. Hilliard, 132 Mass. 412, 42 Am. Rep. 444; De Camp v. Dobbins, 31 N. J. Eq. 695; Chamberlain v. Stearns, 111 Mass. 268; Goodale v. Mooney, 60 N. H. 535, 49 Am. Ren. 334.
    —Benevolent associations. Those having a philanthropic or charitable purpose, as distinguished from such as are conducted for profit; specifically, "benefit associations" or "beneficial associations." See Benefit.
    —Benevolent societies In English law. Societies established and registered under the friendly societies act, 1875, for any charitable or benevolent purposes.