The Society's charitable purposes is to promote and encourage the public study of British family history, genealogy, heraldry and local history with particular reference to Cumbria; to promote the preservation, security and accessibility of archival material. The modern county of Cumbria includes the historical counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, the Furness district of Lancashire and the Sedbergh district of Yorkshire. The Charity Commission website lists our activities as "Education/training and Environment/conservation/heritage though making grants to organisations and sponsoring or undertaking research and providing services to the general public or other defined groups such as the County Archives". Membership is open to all without restriction on payment of an annual subscription.
In the exercise of its responsibilities, the Society acts through its Trustees and Council, its works are in general made available to the general public via publications. Significant work has been carried out in transcribing historical county records which include wills, censuses, church registers and monumental inscriptions as well as the purchase of and cataloging of legal document collections.
The Society's website is accessible worldwide, making heritage information freely and accurately available, including about the outcome of funded research projects, and providing answers to all queries relevant to our objects, either directly or by passing them to other experts. We give public notice of our meetings and events, and those of our affiliated groups, many of which are open to the general public at a nominal price. Following the completion of a digitisation project in 2016, every edition of the annual Transactions since the Society's foundation except for the last five years is freely available on-line through the website, and the website of Archaeology Data Services. The most recent editions are open to our members and become available to the general public on a rolling annual basis.
The Society constantly monitors its public benefit contribution setting up as appropriate particular public benefit projects, or supporting other organisations or bodies as deemed appropriate and in line with the resources available to and held by the Society.