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Governance and Organisation Development

Here at Community Action Suffolk, we recognise the importance that VCFSE (Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise) organisations contribute to society. One of our aims at CAS is to ensure that this sector receives information and guidance to help it develop and thrive.

We offer free advice and support on a range of subjects, such as:

•          Setting up a new charitable organisation

•          Legal structures

•          Policies and procedures

•          Trustee roles and responsibilities

Setting up a new charitable organisation

Setting up a new charitable organisation can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Many want to do so through personal experience of a situation where they see a gap in the support offered.

One of the first things you need to establish is whether there is another organisation locally that is carrying out the same work that you want to do. If so, it might be worth linking in with them and volunteering/helping them in an already established group.

If there isn’t a service out there, then you need to think about what vehicle you are going to use in terms of organisational structure, as this will determine the minimum amount of people that will be required for you to run, as well as any limits on what you can and can’t do.

More information on setting up a charitable organisation

Legal structures

For new organisations, deciding which legal structure to adopt can cause a lot of confusion. There are many points to consider when choosing a structure, but the main deciding factor is often the level of liability for the trustees.

These are the four main types of charity structure:

  • Unincorporated association
  • Charitable trust
  • CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation)
  • CLG (Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee)

The first two are unincorporated structures. An unincorporated organisation is run by a committee, and the individuals that run it are responsible for any liabilities that may incur. It is the easiest form to set up and relatively informal.

The other two are incorporated structures, which creates organisations with separate legal identity. Therefore, the board will be protected against liabilities — so long as they have acted legally and with due care.

Your charity structure is defined by its governing document (the legal document that creates the charity and says how it should be run). Each type of structure requires a different type of governing document (constitution, trust deed, etc.) but their function is the same: serving as a rulebook.

You can also set up an organisation that has more a social mission rather than a charitable purpose, somewhere between a standard business and a charity, in which case a Community Interest Company (CIC) might be a suitable option for you. This structure does not have charitable status but is more flexible in terms of trading and income generation.

More information on legal structures

Policies and procedures

It is essential for your organisation to have policies and procedures in place to protect the governing body and the people that run or use your services, and to deal efficiently with any situations that may arise.

Below are some examples of policies and procedures that you might need to have in place to help embed strong governance in a sustainable and enduring organisation. The exact will depend on what your organisation/group wants to achieve and the people it is being set up to benefit.

  • Safeguarding children and adults
  • Behaviour and Code of Conduct
  • Confidentiality
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Health & Safety
  • Risk Assessment
  • First Aid
  • Lone Working
  • Complaints/Grievance
  • Recruitment (including volunteers and trustees) and compliance with DBS
  • Finance

A useful resource to consider when developing or reviewing your policies and procedures is the CAS Quality Framework.  It offers tailored levels of support including the HealthCheck Plus and Quality Standard, which contain additional guidance and example documents to help you develop and embed these policies and procedures.

Trustee roles and responsibilities

Trustees are responsible for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. They may be called trustees, the board, the management committee, governors, directors, or something else. We offer help with trustee recruitment, retention and succession planning, as well as helping to resolve any trustee issues that you may be experiencing.

For further information as to what is entailed in being a trustee, please follow this link:

Contact us

Heyder Magalhães

Business Support Officer

T: 01473 345397

E: [email protected]