In a recent blog, we shared some top tips on setting up a community organisation from Sarah Bishton, from the Advice Team at Community Matters. Here, you can read the second instalment with even more advice.
Sarah took part in one of our live discussions on the Just Act forum – click here to catch up on the whole discussion.
Community Matters is the national membership and support organisation for the community sector. Their Advice Line provides guidance on all aspects of managing a community organisation or charity – click here to find out more.
This blog post has more great tips from Sarah on how you can manage your organisation, run a community building and keep an eye on your finances.
1. Decide how you’ll manage your committee
If your group has a constitution, then it should set out how the committee is elected or appointed. The basic considerations to avoid trouble are that there is no majority vote on a committee where the people are connected in some way (for example if they are a relative), signatories to any bank account are unconnected, any conflict of interests are declared and managed.
2. Get the best from the people you work with
In terms of getting the best out of people – a skills audit of the management committee would enable you to build on and utilise existing strengths but also help identify where your weak areas are. You can find an example skills audit here.
Recruiting, selecting and inducting new committee members and trustees is key – the Charity Commission produce useful tools in this area for example this document on trustee recruitment, selection and induction.
3. Good management of buildings doesn’t happen by chance
Good management of buildings doesn’t just happen by chance. It requires thought, care and attention to detail. It also requires practical skill and knowledge – effective building management needs to be organised. Here at Community Matters we produce a whole range of guidance on managing and sustaining a community building and we also deliver training on managing community assets.
4. It’s important to manage your finances
Most banks will expect to see some form of constitution before they will open any sort of account. If you’re not registered with either Companies House or the Charity Commission, banks can usually set up a treasurers or a club account instead. Different banks take different approaches. A lot of groups I work with prefer to have a local branch that they can access in person.
There should be adequate financial controls in place when operating a bank account – most community groups have two or three signatories on the account. Where electronic banking is used, the same level of internal financial controls should be in place as there would be for more traditional forms of banking. There should be clear segregation of duties to prevent any single person (for example, the treasurer) from being able to control substantial resources or obtaining unauthorised access to account information; and there should be proper approval for movements between, and payments from, bank accounts.
5. Consult with your community and record your successes
Groups should establish that there is an on-going need from the community for the organisation, through community consultation and feedback. Ensure that you monitor and evaluate your projects effectively, because funders, partners and stakeholders will be interested in the project’s impact and success.
You can catch up on the first instalment of Sarah’s top tips on setting up an organisation by reading this blog post, and head to Community Matters’ website to find out about how their Advice Line can benefit your organisation.
Even more top tips for setting up and running a community organisation,