Starting a New Group
A simple guide to setting up a new voluntary or community organisation in Ampthill
If you've decided to get together with other people to form a community or voluntary group to meet a need in our community then you will need a set of rules or constitution to govern your intended activities.
What is a constitution?
A constitution is a written document that sets out how an organisation or group works. It may also be called a set of rules, terms of reference or something similar. If it covers the points set out below, it acts as a constitution.
What should it contain?
Here is a list of the things your constitution needs to contain. It does not have to be too detailed.
- Name of the group: This is the formal name you use (and should be the same as the name on your group's bank account).
- Objects: of the group, which can be called aims, objectives or purposes. These are a few short statements about what your group does or plans to do.
- Powers: this explains how the group may achieve its objects or purposes, for example, by raising funds or acquiring equipment.
- Committee: this explains how the management committee is elected or appointed, for example, elected at the Annual General Meeting for a period of one year. It may detail the minimum and maximum number of people on the management committee and the roles of that need to be filled by committee members, such as chairman, treasurer and secretary.
- Membership: this describes how people can join your group if they want to. It is advisable to make this non-restrictive, in effect an "open membership", so anyone can join who wants to.
- Closing down: this says what would happen if you decide to close the group down, and what would happen to any money or assets that are left over. The assets should be given to another similar group or governing body in the case of a not-for-profit organisation and not be distributed amongst the members.
- Adopting the constitution: Your management committee should "adopt" your constitution. This means they must all agree that these will be the rules for your group. They should each sign and date the constitution to show this.
Download: A Simple Model Constitution
You will need to open a bank account in the name of your group (local banks will be able to advise you on the most suitable type of account) and decide who from your management committee will be responsible for managing that account. This will normally be your treasurer.
You will need to make sure that at least two signatures are required for all payments and withdrawals. This is good practice for voluntary groups. Your signatories will usually be the treasurer and one other member of your management committee. Three signatories give you flexibility to cover holidays or change signatories when someone leaves.
When setting up a new group you must consider how the finances of your organisation will be managed. Your treasurer will be responsible for recording the income and expenditure and producing annual accounts. It is up to you when annual accounts are produced but many groups produce accounts at the end of the financial year. If you decide to apply for funding before your groups has been running for a year, you may be able to submit a financial projection for the next twelve months.
Applying for funding and developing your organisation
Once you have decided how your group will be run and how you will operate its finances you should be in a position to apply for funding. You should speak to your local Council for Voluntary Service at this point, which in the case of Ampthill is Community & Voluntary Service , based at 43 Bromham Road, Bedford, MK40 2AA. Tel: 01234 354366. It is also worthwhile visiting their website at www.yourcvs.org, where there is detailed advice on setting up your organisation, developing it and securing funds for its future survival.