This chapter argues that a trust can be created validly to pursue an abstract purpose provided that that purpose is a charitable purpose. The definitions of the various forms of ‘charitable purpose’ were set out in case law before the passage of the Charities Act 2006, which introduced further categories of charitable purpose. The birth of the law on charities is best understood as being in the activities of the church when dealing with impoverished people in individual parishes. One of the greatest problems facing charities law in this area has been the charitable status that has been accorded to fee-charging, so-called ‘public schools’. The Charity Commissioners had always accepted such major world religions as falling within the charities law definition of ‘religion’ in any event. The cy-près doctrine gives the courts a power to reconstitute the settlor’s charitable intentions so as to benefit charity if the original purposes cannot be achieved, for whatever reason.