Simple Steps to Setting up a Community Group

Every charity or community group starts with a great idea be that for a community project, activity or service but how do you get started?

This simple steps guide offers an overview of the stages involved, and the things that need to be considered when setting up a community group, project or charity. These stages do not always follow a logical step by step process. Very often you will need to make several decisions all at once and some of the stages will need to happen simultaneously.

Identifying the need

Certain things need to be considered before setting up a group such as; what does the group wish to do, identify if there is a need and ensure there are no other groups in your area doing the same thing.

You will need to consider things such as:

  1. Who is the group for? Will the group offer a service to the general public or local community or will it be for members only?
  2. What are the aims of the group and what do you want to achieve?
  3. Where will the group operate and what is it's geographical area?

The following Community Toolkit sections show you how to identify the need and the first steps to consider when setting up a community group.

Choosing your structure

Having established there is a need or demand for your ideas, you will need to decide on the most appropriate structure for managing or running the group. The list below reviews the different types of structures for community groups.

Establishing a committee

The Committee, Management Committee or Board (if you are a Company Ltd by Guarantee or Community Interest Company) is the governing body of a community group. The committee members or directors are the people responsible for taking care of the organisation on behalf of the other members. Key things to consider when establishing your committee are:

Charitable Status

With the exception of the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) structure, charitable status is not a legal structure in itself -it is more like a ‘badge of credibility’,  something which enhances the public profile of your group. Charitable status also offers certain financial benefits.

However, your group cannot simply choose to call itself a charity. In Scotland it is a legal offence for a group to call itself a charity if it is not on the Scottish Charity Register. To achieve charitable status, and be officially listed on the Scottish Charity Register, your group will need to apply to the regulatory body OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) and satisfy a two part Charity Test.   

Developing a Constitution

A constitution is a written framework of rules for your organisation. It is in effect your group's governing document, stating your aims, clarifying decision-making procedures and establishing a basis for good practice. It will be a basic requirement for your group to operate. You will need it to open a bank account, apply to funders, register for charitable status, become a company, hire staff or acquire premises.

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Last Updated 23/11/2015 09:59