A large majority of the calls we take on our advice line are about which type of organisation would suit best. We ask groups about their actvities, what they’re set up to achieve, if they’re doing any sort of trading activity – we then take them through the pros and cons of potential organisational structures. For example we recently advised a group who were looking at becoming either a Community Interest Company (social enterprise) or a registered Charity (incorporated). We went through both structures in detail – in the end they decided to go for an incorporated Charity (CIO) structure because mainly 1. their aims / activities were charitable in nature 2. they would receive mandatory rate relief on their community building as a registered Charity. We advise Communinty Groups, Local Authorities and Community / Voluntary Action on setting up community projects / groups. If someone approaches us where what they’re set up to acheive is beyond our areas of expertise, we sign post them to other agenices. For instance we were recently asked to advise an organisation specialising in relieving people with a particular medical condition and we advised them to approach their local Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) for assistance.
(groups can find their nearest CVS at www. navca.org.uk )
We provide a range of advice / guidance in this area. As an example I’ve attached one of our guidance notes ‘setting up a community organisation’ which goes through things that groups should consider at the start.