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What is a constitution? Often referred to as your Governing Document

A constitution is a written description of what an organisation is, what it does, and how it does it. There are different terms used for a constitution depending on the legal structure of the group. An unincorporated association would adopt a ´constitution═ or a ´set of rules═ A trust would adopt a ´Declaration of Trust═. A company would adopt a ´memorandum and articles of association.

Why is a constitution needed?

Very often an organisation can be operating for a number of years very informally without a constitution. There may be a point at which it is recognised that the group needs to formalise itself. The development of a written governing document for the organisation can help to ensure that:
1. the groups aims and objectives are clear and agreed
2. there is a clear process for decision making within the organisation
3. the organisation gains credibility with funding bodies
4. the lines of responsibility and accountability are clarified
5. the group can register with the Charity Commission
6. there is a process for formally appointing the people who run the group


Model and standard constitutions

Before starting to develop a constitution it is important to think about whether the organisation will now, or at some point in the future, need to register with the Charity Commission.

If this is likely to be the case then it is advisable to adapt one of the model constitutions approved by them. See thier model governing documents on thier website


See our information sheet on Choosing Legal Structures here

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