Constituted community groups
A community group which forms to address issues or meet needs arising within the local community will usually draw up a written agreement, a constitution, between the organisation and its members.
In basic terms, a constitution is simply a set of written rules or an agreement governing the aims of the organisation, how it will be run and how the members will work together. The constitution is effectively the ‘instruction manual’ for how the group functions internally and provided evidence of its purposes and structure for people external to the organisation. It can often be the first step on the ladder towards a group becoming commissioned or contracted to provide services, and is usually a prerequisite for application for grants or loans. By adopting a constitution, a group will become an ‘unincorporated association’ by law. This will prevent individual members being exposed to potential risk if, for example, a group runs into financial problems or ceases to exist, by spreading the risk between members.