Starting a community group can seem like an onerous task but if you take it a step at a time and follow a logical order you will be up and running and making a difference in your community in no time.
If you are setting up a new community group Northumberland CVA can offer 2 hours of free support to help you get everything in place. In order to acces this support you will need to complete a pre-membership form.
Once your organisation is legally formed you can apply for full membership of Northumberland CVA and, if approved, you will be eligible for a further 3 hours of free support per year.
Why do you want to set up a community group?
Have you identified a need in your area as a result of a gap in services or activities? Are you one of a group of like-minded people who share a vision to improve an area? Or perhaps you have identified an area where some individuals are feeling isolated or need extra support. There are many reasons why people might want to set up a voluntary or community group. Whatever your reasons, one thing is certain: starting a new group needs time and commitment from people like you, people who are willing to get on and do something about the issues you have identified. And this often involves stimulating debate to gain support and attract attention.
Things to consider when setting up a community group
Setting up a new group involves a variety of tasks and so there are a number of things you will need to consider. The more aware you are of all you need to do, the easier the tasks will be. Forethought and good planning at this stage can save a lot of wasted effort or work later.
You can use the key questions below as an essential checklist:
- What do we want to do?
- Where do we want to do it?
- Do we have the time, energy and commitment to do the work ourselves?
- How will we generate funds?
- Do we have enough people to form a committee?
- Do we need to formally constitutue the group?
Avoid overlapping with other groups
It is also essential that you check whether there are already local organisations that carry out the same type of work your new group intends to do? If a similar group already exists, you could join that group instead. This is because duplication can be expensive and a waste of resources. It can create ill-feeling with those you compete with and it deters prospective
funders. Joining an existing organisation and working with them instead will save a lot of hard work in getting set up as a new group and getting everything off the ground.
Getting started – think about the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve?
- What kinds of activities will you want to provide to achieve this?
- How do you know there is a need for what you want to do?
- Who needs it?
- How will these people benefit?
- How many people need it?
- Will your group meet these needs in full/ in part?
- What will be the benefits from running your activities?
Initially, there are usually three to four people who set up a group before getting to the point where they need to evolve into a management committee. A management committee can consist of any number, from three to several people. Responsibility for the group should be shared between decision-makers, who will co-ordinate activities, make sure funding is in place and so on.
Your Management Committee will be responsible for ensuring that your group:
- Sets aims and objectives and plans ahead
- Works towards its aims and objectives,
- Acts in the best interests of the people your group is set up to support (your beneficiaries)
- Has enough resources to carry out all of your work, and that these resources are well managed and used to meet your aims and objectives
- Holds regular committee meetings
The set of rules (constitution)
Your group will need to have a Governing Document so that everyone knows who and what your organisation is, what it aims to do, how it will be run and who is responsible for running it. You will also need a Governing Document in order to apply for funding that will enable you to deliver your service / activity / project.
The normal type of governing document for a small group is called a constitution (a set of rules) and will consist of the following:
- Annual General Meeting
- Extraordinary General Meeting
- Procedure at General Meetings
- Bank Accounts and Annual Accounts
- Payments or benefits
- Amendments to the Constitution
The constitution will need to be signed by the Management Committee and dated on the day it is adopted. Once your group has agreed and signed your constitution, it is a legal document. The committee, not the members, will be personally responsible for making sure the rules are followed.
Getting further support