Choosing a legal structure
Factsheet 9: Choosing a legal structure – If you are thinking about (or are in the process of) setting up a charitable organisation, consider carefully what legal form you opt for. Your legal structure can have a huge impact on any future activities, such as fundraising, trading or contracting because your legal status is closely linked with how you are governed and regulated. It can also affect your legal rights as an organisation.
Factsheet 10: Charity registration – This factsheet should be read in conjunction with ‘Factsheet 1a: Starting a new group’, ‘Factsheet 1b: Setting up a new group’, ‘Factsheet 26: Choosing a legal structure’ and guidance from the Charity Commission. A charity is an organisation with exclusively charitable purposes that benefit the public. This means that each charity must be able to demonstrate that all of its aims are for public benefit and falls within 13 descriptions of purposes set out in the Charities Act 2011.
Factsheet 6: Trustee roles and responsibilities – This factsheet is specifically intended for organisations that are charities. Most of the content refers to principles of good governance which will apply to any type of organisation
Get Legal – Get Legal offers clear guidance and information about legal structures. It aims to help individuals, organisations and advisors to make informed decisions as they set up and develop charities, social enterprises and co-operatives. It also explains a range of legal forms in detail.
To CIO or not to CIO – The perceived advantages and disadvantages of using a Charitable Incorporated Organisation produced by Freeth Cartwright LLP February 2012
Business Link – Choosing and setting up a legal structure – You must choose a business structure when you start a business. The structure you choose will define your legal responsibilities
Charity Commission guidance on converting a Community Interest Company to a CIO – If you are a Community Interest Company (CIC) you can apply to convert directly to a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
Being a trustee / committee member / director
Factsheet 7: Community Interest Companies: Directors’ Legal Responsibilities – Community Interest Companies, although they have their own regulator, are in all other respects companies governed by the Companies Acts. The Board of Directors is the company’s highest authority. However, the company directors do not wield unlimited power.
Factsheet 27: Equal opportunities – Equal opportunities is about ensuring that your organisation, from its decision making procedures through to any services it might provide, is accessible to everyone.
Charity Commission – Charity trustee welcome pack – This guide is for new trustees to introduce them to the role so that they have a basic understanding of their duties and responsibilities
The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3) – What’s required of a charity trustee, including your responsibilities to your charity
Charity trustee: what’s involved (CC3a) – Find out what being a charity trustee involves, if you can claim expenses and where to get help and advice
‘5-minute guides’ for charity trustees
The Charity Commission have produced short guidance on the basics all trustees need to know:
- Charity purposes and rules
- Making decisions at a charity
- Managing charity finances
- Managing conflicts of interest in a charity
- What to send to the Charity Commission and how to get help
NCVO compliance checklist – A vital component of organisational effectiveness is ensuring compliance with legislation. This involves not only being sure of all of the legislation that applies to your organisation and complying with it, but also being able to demonstrate compliance by keeping records of checks, having policies and procedures around the legislation, and having evidence that people are taking responsibility for compliance. NCVO have developed a simple compliance checklist designed to help your board navigate these responsibilities.
Beacon programme for chairs leading smaller charities – The Association of Chairs Beacon programme, a National Lottery-funded programme for chairs and vice chairs of smaller charities (with an annual income of under £1m) across England, will offer a range of tailored activities, free practical written resources and webinars and opportunities for chairs to share ideas and learn from each other.
The Board Skills Audit, produced by Prospectus, is a self-assessment exercise that should be used by both Trustees and Executive Team to help to determine the strengths and areas of improvement for your Board
10 Things Terrible Trustees Do and Brilliant Trustees Don’t – this factsheet has been produced by the Directory of Social Change
Governance Pages – This website provides information on governance and management committees for community groups and small voluntary organisations
Liability of Committee Members – This factsheet the liabilities that all committee members face, whether in an incorporated or unincorporated organisation
Good Governance Supplement – This supplement explains the importance of good governance for important for some very positive reasons – ensuring effective use of your staff, volunteers and other resources and bringing the maximum benefit to your chosen cause – and for less positive reasons, such as ensuring that you don’t fall foul of the law or otherwise alienate your funders and supporters
Charity trustee meetings: 15 questions you should ask – This 15-question checklist, produced by the Charity Commission, is suitable for all charities, although some questions might not be relevant to your charity’s size and how it operates. As trustees, you can use it whenever you review the way your charity operates, especially in changing or uncertain economic climates
Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector – This code, produced by the Code Steering Group, focuses on the key principles that trustees and board members should follow and provides clear information about what those principles imply in practice
Finding new trustees (CC30) – The recruitment, appointment and induction process for new charity trustees and how to set a framework for recruitment.
TrusteeWorks – This website aims to help you and your charity by providing support at every stage of the trustee journey. From key information on being a trustee or selecting a new trustee, to help with carrying out a skills audit, recruiting new trustees or developing your Board
Example final panel interview questions produced by Prospectus
Model Chair job description and person specification produced by Prospectus
Model Treasurer job description and person specification produced by Prospectus
Model Trustee job description and person specification produced by Prospectus
ACAS HR and management forms, letters and templates – ACAS have free tools and resources on their website for Hiring staff, Managing staff and Disciplining staff
How to guide: the recruitment of private sector trustees for small charities – This guidance by the Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network discusses how smaller charities can approach recruiting trustees from a corporate background and the issues they may face