Essential documents and day-to-day activities

From Our Toolkit

Writing your constitution

Your constitution is the set of principles by which your organisation is governed. It may seem like a daunting document to write but the Charity Commission has advice on how to write your constitution and a range of model governing document templates which you can adapt and use for your situation. For smaller unincorporated organisations you may also find the advice on constitutions from the Resource Centre, Small Charities Coalition or your local council for voluntary service via NAVCA.

Terms of Reference (TOR)

Your Terms of Reference document establishes your governing body whether that’s a committee or a board. It provides details of the specific authority that group has to oversee a delegated area of responsibilities. It clearly sets out the roles, responsibilities, operations, tenure and obligations, in accordance with any specific legislative requirements.

The benefit of creating TOR is to provide boards or committee members and key stakeholders a
common understanding of the scope, objectives and operational processes of the board/committee and any legislative requirements.

The Pensions Regulator has a sample Terms of Reference document which can be used as a model.

Running meetings

Once you have your constitution, and/or TOR, in place you can hold your first meeting.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and The Resource Centre provides clear guidance on running effective meetings from the different roles of the group to chairing skills and involving people in your meetings.

Planning schedule

By developing a planning schedule everyone in your governing body (and your members) will be clear when meetings are due, projects are planned and documents are due for review. NCVO and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action provide good advice on developing a planning framework for your organisation.

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A one-page list of all the sections of the Toolkit.