Getting Started

Starting a group or charity is an exciting time, but there are a number of different things you need to consider.

Your first step will be research. Is there a real need for what you want to do? Is there anyone already established and fulfilling that need? It is always worth checking whether a similar or related organisation could be a partner, rather than having to set up a new organisation.

Once you’ve established the need and what you can do, there are decisions you’ll need to make and actions you’ll need to do to get going.

  • Decide what type of organisation you want to be
  • Write your constitution accordingly
  • Set up your board of directors/trustees or management committee
  • Identify exactly what your purpose is – what are your objectives and, if you’re going to be a charity, do they meet the Charity Commission’s parameters?
  • How will you achieve your objectives i.e. write a strategic/business plan
  • Identify where the funding you need will come from

As well as the guidance on the Charity Commission website, NCVO and other specialist sites for not for profit organisations you may also find the small business resources from Bucks Business First and Start-up Donut helpful. You can find further information in the FAQs below:

Image courtesy of Wheelpower

I want to set up a new organisation. What structure should I choose?

There are a number of different legal structures which you could choose from, depending upon the purpose of your organisation and the size and nature of your operation. For an overview and pros and cons of each see the NCVO summary and you may find the LawWorks video useful.

The following links give further information as well as tools to help you decide.

If you are considering setting up a social enterprise, the guide Structures for Social Enterprises from legal firm DLA Piper.

For community owned businesses or co-operatives the Plunkett Foundation have produced A Brief Guide to Legal Structures.

Where can I find model constitutions?

The Charity Commission provides model constitutions depending upon what type of structure you are adopting.

If you are a Community Building our subscription service gives you access to model constitutions adapted for community buildings and approved by the Charity Commission.

We have produced a sample constitution for small voluntary groups which can be adapted for your use.

How do I set up a charity?

The Charity Commission provides information on what you need to do to set up a charity and have a video on making an application. You may also find the following useful:

How do I set up a Community Interest Company (CIC)?

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a particular legal structure which is specifically for social enterprises, although it is not the only legal form. A social enterprise is a not-for-profit business with primarily social or environmental objectives which intends to trade or sell services, although it may also receive some grant funding and donations; however, a CIC cannot simultaneously be a charity. For more information see the following links. 

How many trustees do we need?

As a charity you need a minimum of three people as trustees and most management committees operate with at least a chair, secretary and treasurer. However, you will need enough trustees with the right skills to ensure that you can run your organisation effectively. For help with your trustee roles and how to recruit suitable people visit our helpful resources.

What policies do we need? And how can we create them?

NCVO gives an overview of policies you should consider having in your organisation and guidance and templates on writing them. Any template will need to be adapted for your organisation and proportionate to your size and scale.

We have a number of template policies relating to volunteering which can be adapted for your own use.

A reserves policy is important not only for running your organisation but also when you are making funding applications, as it may support the reasons why you need funding rather than being able to fund the project from your own resources. See the following for more detail:

How do we develop a business plan?

Your organisation will benefit from having an agreed business plan to work to and funders will often ask for a copy of a business plan with financials associated with it. The links below give guidance on how to develop your plan.