Starting a Charity

Voluntary organisations and community groups are set up every day in Berkshire for many different reasons

“Our Growth Clubs are a really great starting point”

Voluntary organisations and community groups are set up every day in Berkshire for many different reasons, however the amount of effort required to set up and establish a new voluntary organisation should not be underestimated, and it is important that ample time is built into your development plan.

Starting Up

involve can provide advice on starting up and if you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss your idea further please contact us.

First though, consider these six simple steps for setting up your organisation

  1. Identify the need – do your research, you may have a great idea and there may already be someone doing it! Why not contact them and see if you can join forces or work together?
  2. Build a team – working alone will be hard work. You may need trustees, supporters, volunteers or partners?
  3. Agree the purpose and aims of the organisation.
  4. Make a plan
  5. Get constituted
  6. Decide the legal structure

For more information about these steps call us on 01344 304404 or email us .

Good Practice

Running an organisation, whether it be a voluntary group, charity, social enterprise or trust takes time and dedication.

It is important to understand the benefits of adopting good practices within your organisation from the offset. Good practice is a safeguard within your organisation, its volunteers, staff and stakeholders. When things go wrong it is easier to find solutions when best practice models are in place to help and guide you.

Here is a list of things to consider to ensure that your organisation has adopted good practices.

  • Governing Documents
  • Good Governance – Constitution Questions
  • Planning
  • Financial Management
  • Insurance
  • Effective Employer (incl volunteer)

Legal Structures

A legal structure provides a framework which opens up new opportunities and establishes credibility, identity and continuity within a voluntary organisation.

You do not have to adopt a legal structure unless you aim to be a registered charity. It is possible for a voluntary group to operate without being formally organised and constituted if it is carrying out a small-scale operation (eg. a small self-help or special interest group).

involve advises all our clients to adopt some formal structure which will help to ensure that problems or misunderstandings do not occur.

The most common charitable structures are:

  • Voluntary or Community Groups
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisations
  • Community Interest Companies

It is the responsibility of your committee to decide which legal structure is right for your organisation. The Government website Charity types: how to choose a structure gives a full breakdown of charitable structures. For further assistance please contact us here at involve.

Financial Management

No matter how big or small your organisation may be, it is imperative that you keep accurate financial records. Money matters are the number one issue for sustainability within the voluntary sector. A good treasurer will understand the importance of their role in ensuring that records are kept up to date and are a true and honest account of the organisations financial position.

Finances should be part of every agenda to ensure transparency and accounts should be independently examined or audited on an annual basis and made available for scrutiny.

For more information about bookkeeping, budgeting and risk see the Government webpage Who can run your charity’s finances.

involve can offer advice, support and training with finance.

Governing Documents

Here at involve, we advise all of our clients to adopt governing documents, such as a constitution, which are the rules that govern your organisation.

The constitution makes clear:

  • The name of the organisation
  • The geographic area in which the organisation operates
  • The aims and objectives of the organisation
  • The powers that the organisation has to raise funds, employ staff, etc
  • The membership/committee structure and associated procedures (election, termination etc)
  • Voting rights
  • Rules and procedures for meetin ncluding annual general meeting
  • How the organisation will be dissolved including assets

This may seem like basic and obvious information but it is amazing how this type of information can be misunderstood if it is not formalised.

You are not legally obliged to hold a constitution however this is advisable as it ensures that the organisation is run fairly and transparently, for the benefit of its community.

Business Planning

For larger scale projects we advise that you develop a long term business plan for your organisation between 3-5 years.

A business plan is a written document that describes a business, its objectives, its strategies, the market it is in and its financial forecasts. It has many functions, from securing external funding to measuring success within your business.

involve can support our members to develop a business plan. Contact us now for more information. You can also discover more from the Government website Write a business plan.