Writing a Constitution

Your group’s structure – and whether or not your group is seeking charitable status - will determine some of the elements that make up your governing document, but there are key elements or clauses which should be included in any constitution:-

  • the name of your group or organisation
  • the geographic area of benefit 
  • the aims and objectives of your group (also called the purposes).  If your group is considering charitable status the purposes of your group will need to reflect charitable purposes as set out in current charity legislation
  • the powers that the organisation will have (for example, will the group be able to hire staff, raise funds, buy land etc) 
  • your group’s membership  - how do people become members? Who is eligible?
  • membership subscription levels for the organisation 
  • how membership is to be terminated 
  • how any committee structure will work 
  • details of officers such as chairperson, vice-chairperson, treasurer and secretary and their appointment terms of office 
  • terms of any paid officers (if applicable)
  • procedures for general meetings
  • details of the rules of procedure, quorum and voting of all meetings 
  • how the group’s finances are to be spent, accounted for and independently examined 
  • how the group will be dissolved in the event of winding up

Once your group’s committee (or steering group) has reached an agreement on the rules of how your group will be run, and has a clear purpose or aim, they can begin to draft a constitution. Model constitutions, with tried and tested templates, can be used as a basis but it is important not to lose sight of your group’s own aims and rules and to include these in the draft. 

It is a good idea to speak to other similar groups and perhaps look at their constitutions. Your local Third Sector Interface organisation will have assisted many voluntary groups over the years and will also be a good starting point.

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Last Updated 02/10/2013 11:48