4 - Constituting your organisation

Main features of a constitution

  • Name of the group.
  • Aims and objectives.
  • Membership.
  • Committee: its composition, officers, powers and duties.
  • Annual General Meeting (AGM): when it is to be held, its purpose (e.g. to elect a committee for the next year); the numbers required for a meeting to be valid
  • Special General Meetings (SGM): who can call them, how many members need to be present.
  • Control of funds.
  • Dissolution: how to wind up the group when the time comes.
  • Alterations to the constitution: how these can be made (e.g. only by an AGM or by an SGM).

Constitutional and organisational checklist

  • You have a constitution that all members have agreed
  • Your committee members know their responsibilities
  • You organise trustee/directors/committee members’ training
  • You have checked whether you are required to register as a charity
  • You have the right legal agreements on your building, and they are up to date
  • If you have a significant trading activity, for example, a bar, this is separated off from the main organisation

Who does what?


runs meetings and may act as a spokesperson or representative of the group. Responsibilities

  • Plans and prepares meetings (usually with the Secretary).
  • Begins the meeting; asks for apologies for absence and welcomes new members.
  • Introduces each agenda item with a brief summary including what is needed by the end of the item, for example – ‘we need to reach a decision on X’.
  • Runs the meeting so that everyone has a chance to contribute.
  • Encourages the group to reach clear decisions.
  • Summarises decisions made and action to be taken.
  • Announces the date of the next meeting.


does the administration and liaises between members between meetings. Responsibilities

  • Taking accurate notes and producing minutes, getting these agreed by the Chair and circulating them to members as soon as possible.
  • Drawing up the agenda with the Chair.
  • Sending reminders of the date and time of the forthcoming meetings to members.
  • Writing letters and receiving correspondence for the group – and keeping a record of these.
  • Keeping a file with copies of all minutes and papers relating to the group.
  • Keeping members informed of what is happening between meetings.


handles the group’s money and financial affairs Responsibilities

  • Drawing up budgets to be presented to the group for approval.
  • Paying bills and banking money.
  • Recording all financial transactions, keeping receipts.
  • Reporting on the financial position.


Has your organisation carried out the following finance tasks this year?
  • Prepared a budget?
  • Set down a detailed activities Programme?
  • Agreed procedures for action?
  • Tried all possible sources of income
  • Developed a fund raising strategy?
  • Ensured that your budget headings and account books are consistent?