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Setting up a community group or charity

We can help with:

advice on getting started

When you’re starting out, it’s best to keep things simple. You can just get together a group of volunteers, members or interested local people, agree a set of rules for what you want to do and how you want to do it and get going. And that’s it! You don’t need to got through any complicated legal processes or registrations.

If you’re going to be applying for funding, then funders will expect to see evidence that your group is:

  • democratic
  • that you’ll be managing your money properly
  • and that there’s a plan for what will happen if you need to wind things up.

If you go down this route, you will be an unincorporated group, association or unregistered charity, and you can decide at a later date if you need to become something more formal like a Registered Charity, Community Interest Company (CIC), Company Limited by Guarantee or some sort of Co-operative.

You can be classed as a ‘charity’ if your aims are wholly charitable i.e. for public benefit, and you only need to officially register as a charity (and get a Charity Number) when your income reaches £5,000. Once you’ve registered, you have to comply with Charity Law.

draft governing documents

We can send you a draft constitution for your community or voluntary group, or you can download a model constitution for unregistered charities from the Charity Commission.

seed funding to help you get started

We often manage small grants funds on behalf of partners like Kirklees Council and Locala for things like:

  • activities that help improve people’s health and wellbeing
  • helping people try new activities and engage in learning
  • supporting people through Winter
  • making sure people have access to the right information about Covid testing and vaccinations
  • including people from refugee backgrounds or people with additional needs in what you do

These are normally really easy to apply for, we’ll support you through the process, and help you get anything from £200 to £2000 to do something good in your community. And don’t worry if you haven’t got a bank account yet, as we can always arrange for another local organisation (such as a Community Anchor) to hold the money for you.)

Find out more on our Funding page or speak to your local TSL Community Anchor, or our Supporting Communities Lead, Bridget Hughes – bridget@tslkirklees.org.uk.

getting local mentoring support & advice from our community anchors

Our TSL Kirklees Community Anchor Network is a network of trusted and established organisations working in every area of Kirklees. They are there to help you with advice, mentoring and support. They can help you:

  • make useful local contacts
  • network and form partnerships
  • promote your activities and services
  • access funding, resources and opportunities

The 5 Lead Community Anchors are:

  1. Huddersfield – Local Services 2 You (LS2Y)
  2. Dewsbury & Mirfield – Support 2 Recovery (S2R)
  3. Batley & Spen – Yorkshire Children’s Centre (YCC)
  4. Denby Dale & Kirkburton – TimeTogether (Denby Dale Centre)
  5. Holme & Colne Valleys – The Valleys Anchor Network

free training, volunteer recruitment & more…

We’re here whenever you need us, to help with other things as you grow and develop:

You can keep up to date with all of this by registering for our monthly newsletter which includes details of funding and opportunities, local news, training and events. local jobs etc.


What things do I need to set up a community or voluntary group?

You will need to think about:

  • The name of your group
  • Who’s going to run the group. This isn’t something you can do on your own. You need a group of people to support you as a management committee or steering group, and share the risks, responsibilities and decisions. Alternatively, you can have members who are part of the leadership and decision-making.
  • What you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. This will form your ‘Constitution’:
    • You need to agree your aims. These are called your ‘Objects’ and it’s best to keep them broad and simple in case what you do changes in the future, for example: ‘We want to bring people together to promote community spirit/relieve poverty or isolation/work with young people.’
    • You’ll need to formally adopt these at a meeting (i.e. you need to vote on them and the decision needs to be recorded as ‘minutes’) to give yourself the powers that you need to run things, for example:
      • have volunteers or employees
      • have a bank account and who the signatories will be
      • make democratic decisions and be transparent and accountable
      • what will happen if you have to close the group (for example, if you have any money or assets, then these may have to be given back to a funder or passed on to another similar local group for the benefit of the community).
  • How you’re going to fund your activities, and whether you need any particular equipment, resources, insurance or a location
  • And if you’re going to charge for what you do or apply for funding, then ideally, you’ll need a bank account in the name of your group.
  • How you’re going to keep people safe, including any staff, volunteers and participants. Do you need to do risk assessments? Will your staff and volunteers need DBS checks?

when should we consider becoming a registered charity or other formal organisation?

If your group is getting larger, employing people, taking on bigger projects, funds or property, then you may need to think about a new structure that allows you to do more, and protects everyone involved. The key thing here, is risk, particularly financial risk. For example,

  • if you are taking-on staff then you will have legal and financial responsibilities as an employer,
  • If you are buying or leasing buildings or premises then you will have legal and financial responsibilities as a tenant or mortgage-holder,
  • If you are taking on loans or longer-term funding then you have legal and financial responsibilities as a borrower or contract holder.

And with all these things comes additional risk and joint liability for your committee members. What if you run out of money, or a loan or mortgage doesn’t get repaid?

By creating a formal legal structure, your effectively turning your group into a separate legal ‘person’, ‘body’ or ‘entity’ that can sign contracts, enter into agreements and take on risk and responsibilities. These means that each of the committee members isn’t personally liable if things go wrong.

what sort of organisation could we be?

You will need to choose one of the legal structures defined by law. There are lots of these, sometimes with very subtle differences between them, and it can be confusing. Some of the more common options are:

  • A Registered Charity – there are 4 types of charity in England:
    1. A charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) – TSL Kirklees is a CIO. When you become a CIO, you are a registered charity from day 1.
    2. A charitable company limited by guarantee – this is a type of company without shareholders, which is also registered as a charity
    3. An unincorporated association – the sort of organisation you probably are now (as a community or voluntary group), but you must officially register as a charity if you income goes over £5000 per year.
    4. A charitable trust – an organisation that holds assets for charitable purposes. This could be a building, land or money that’s donated to good causes.
  • A Community Interest Company (CIC) – a special type of limited company that’s set up for the benefit of the community rather than shareholders. This type of company can be know as a ‘social enterprise’, but this isn’t a legally recognised term.
  • A Company Limited by Guarantee – a company without shareholders
  • A Limited Company – a company with shareholders
  • A Community Benefit Society – a type of co-operative that’s run for the benefit of the community

More Information

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