Wednesday, November 25, 2009

UK – Constitution for Small Charities

Third Sector reports that the Charity Commission of England and Wales recently published a model constitution for small charities.  The Commission created the constitution as boilerplate for charities that are so small that they are not required to register with the government.  This includes charities that do not own property, employ a staff or expect their annual income to exceed £5,000.

The purpose of the model constitution is both guidance and governance.  In only 750 words the document explains membership criteria, trustees' powers and regulations governing trustee and members' meetings.  The document has the potential to standardize practices among small charities because it provides a set governance structure and framework for the concepts that it explains.  The model constitution leaves only a few details, such as the name of the charity and its purposes, to be filled in by the charity.  All other matters such as member voting regime, frequency and format of trustee meetings, and procedures for winding up the charity are predetermined.   The document provides a simple and efficient way for small charities to ensure legal compliance and to implement best practices for governance.

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