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. Visit the FAQ section below for further information on how you can find other organisations in your local area.

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

  • Decide what type of organisation you want to be. Read more about the different types structures on our Organisational structures page.
  • Write your constitution accordingly – find out more on our Governing documents page.
  • Set up your board of directors/trustees or management committee. For more information and support with your trustee recruitment visit our page on Developing & advertising your trustee roles.
  • 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? Find further details on our Organisational Purpose page.
  • How will you achieve your objectives i.e. write a strategic/business plan – read more on our Planning & Strategy page.
  • Identify where the funding you need will come from. Find out more on the different sources of income our Funding page and our Local Funding Opportunities page.
  • Identify the help that you will need to run the organisation. For more information and advice about managing volunteers, have a look at our Volunteering page.
  • Once you are operational ready register with the Bucks Online Directory (BOD). We would encourage you to register your details with the Bucks Online Directory (BOD) by creating an account, and adding details of your organisation.

As well as the guidance on the Charity Commission websiteNCVO 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.

For further help with setting up your organisation you can book a free support session.

You can find further information in the FAQs below:

Are there organisations that already offer what I intend to provide?

Find out what else is going on in your area: look for your parish and town councils, Resident’s Associations, Good Neighbours Schemes, Street Associations, local faith organisations, Food Banks, Facebook or other social media groups. You could research this on the internet, at your local library or local authority.

There is a directory of organisations providing support maintained by Buckinghamshire Council.

If they exist, join the group.

Duplicating can be expensive, a waste of resources, creates ill-feeling with those you compete with and deters funders. Joining an existing organisation and working with them saves a lot of hard work setting yourselves up and getting everything off the ground.

If there are groups already doing something similar you might work together to develop something new or set up a group in your area if they do not already reach there. You might share resources, premises and expertise.

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 more information about the different types structures visit our Organisational structures page.


Where can I find model constitutions?

A governing document is a legal document which represents the rule book for the way in which your charity will operate.

There are a number of different types of governing document, dependant on the structure of your organisation.

For further information about your organisations governing document and model constitution templates visit our Governing documents page.

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.

Do we need any policies in place?

You will need to have policies in place to protect the organisation and the people that are involved and use your service.

It ensures that you have procedures in place for dealing with situations that may arise, so you can resolve them in an efficient manner with a clear process for all involved.

Find more information on  the policies you need and how to create them on our Policies page.

How do we develop a business plan?

The strategic plan developed by the board and senior management helps clarify the organisation’s purpose, set direction, and allocate resources, as well as motivating and engaging staff and volunteers.

It is vital you get your strategic plan right. What do you want to achieve over what time period? What resources do you need to deliver that? If you need help writing your plan check out our Guide to Business Planning and our Planning and Strategy page for guidance and support.

How do we cover our costs?

If you are an informal voluntary group, it can be difficult to access funding. Unfortunately, some people have exploited the recent pandemic for fraud, so it’s important to be transparent and act with integrity in order to retain the trust of the community you are supporting.

If you are applying for grant funding most providers will require you to have at least:

    • a bank account in your group’s name.
    • a constitution or governing document that sets out the purpose of your organisation, and how it’s run.  For help with your governing document visit our governing document page.

Fundraising from the general public can be complicated! It’s covered by the Fundraising Regulator, and there are lots of rules and principles to abide by. For further information on how to fundraise safely visit our Fundraising Governance page.

Find out more on the different sources of income our Funding page and our Local Funding Opportunities page.

How do we find people who need our support?

You could set up a Facebook page, leaflet your street, let your GP, church and pharmacy know that you are supporting the community. Information in parish and community newsletters are also a good way to get the word out that your group is here to help.

Let other community groups in your area know what support you are providing – find out what they are providing and work together to ensure you’re not duplicating work and that people are clear who to go to for help.

Register your group with Buckinghamshire Council’s directory using this form so that people using the directory know that you can help.

If you are aware of a vulnerable Buckinghamshire resident who is not getting the support, they need contact Buckinghamshire Council on 01296 383204.

Where can we network with others in Bucks' voluntary sector?

Are you part of a charity or community group in Buckinghamshire and would like to meet and work with other not-for-profit organisations in your area?

The Local Voluntary Sector Networks provide an informal space for Bucks-based charities, voluntary and community groups, and social enterprises to share ideas and resources, and collaborate on the local issues that matter most.

There are three Networks which cover different areas of the county and are based on the Buckinghamshire Council’s Community Board localities of North, South and Central. Each Network decides which local needs to focus on to bring about change in local communities.

Find out more on our Local Voluntary Sector Network webpage.

Image courtesy of Wheelpower