16th Jan 2020

Did you know Every week Durham Community Action deals with enquiries from people looking to set up a new small group. Sometimes the groups have been running informally for a while, are beginning to look for a little more funding and find that they now need to become more formal. Other times, people come to us because they want to provide a new service which they feel is missing in their community and are unsure how to go about it.

When beginning to think about setting up a group, the first question to ask yourself is…is your group a charity? Even though you might not be planning to make a profit, you may not be able to call yourself a charity.

There is legal definition of what is and is not charitable (more information can be found at the Charity Commission here https://www.gov.uk/set-up-a-charity)  and Durham Community Action will help you navigate this.

Secondly, we will help you to understand the number of people you will need to involve in setting up your group. You will need to have at least three people who will be responsible for running the group and they will usually be known as the ‘Committee’. The committee members are the ‘decision makers’ who will plan activities for the group, deal with the money and make sure that the group and its members are safe and following the law.

Once a committee is in place, the group will need a constitution. The constitution is a set of rules which helps make sure that everything is running correctly. If the group is a charity, the Charity Commission have a template constitution available to downloaded and personalise. Durham Community Action can support you to understand your options and adopt the most appropriate constitution for your group. When the constitution has been agreed and signed by the committee members you will be able to use this to open a bank account for the group.

When the group is up and running, the committee members can start to plan what activities/events they will be putting on. The best thing a committee can do is to ask their members and the wider community what they want from the group. This doesn’t have to be complicated and several different methods could be used, such as putting a question out on Facebook, asking people to fill in a questionnaire or simply having a chat with people at an event or open day and noting down their responses.

Once you know what your community want you to do, you will need to decide how you are going to pay for it. The committee may want to make a reasonable charge for some services to cover some of the costs, they might hold fundraising events, or possibly apply for grants.

At Durham Community Action we know how difficult it can be running small groups and offer support at all stages whether that be talking you through setting up as small group, delivering training to committee members so that they understand their roles and responsibilities and providing workshops to help promote your organisation or complete a funding application. As you grow we will also be able to support you through the process of applying to become a registered charity which you will need to do if your income exceeds over £5000 per year.

If you are looking at setting up a small group, please do get in touch and we can talk you through the process.

Email: info@durhamcommunityaction.org.uk

Telephone: 01388 742040

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