Governance Advice

Are you thinking of setting up a new charity? Or do you need advice on how your charity should be run? VAS can offer free advice and support.

Setting up a Charity

Typically, a group of people set up a charity when they have identified a need that is currently not being met. Often, this will be a cause that they are passionate about, because they have experienced the problem directly, or know someone who has.

Setting up a charity involves several considerations, right at the start before you do anything. For example, you need to be able to answer the following:

These are some of the questions you will need to be able to answer. If you are new to the charity sector, this might all seem a bit complicated. Our fact sheets below should help to clear up the confusion. We also encourage you to get in touch with us for free advice specific to your charity. We can support you with one-to-one advice and guidance. Just send us an email at russell@vas-swindon.org, briefly outlining who you are (e.g. a registered charity or new group), and what you need help with. Alternatively, call us on 01793 538398 for a chat.

The Role of Trustees

Trustees in a meeting

Trustees are unpaid volunteers who have overall control of a charity, ensuring that it continues to serve the cause or people it was set up to support. A charity’s Board of Trustees meets regularly to oversee the work of the charity and ensure it is accountable and legally compliant.

Governance Fact Sheets

Whether you’re setting up a new charity or looking for guidance in running an existing one, our Governance Fact Sheets can help you to plan your next steps.

  • Starting a New Group

    Starting a new group can be daunting as there is a lot to consider. This document outlines the questions you will need to answer, and what to do next to get your organisation set up.

  • Why You Need to Register as a Charity

    Registering with the Charity Commission is a legal obligation once your annual income reaches £5,000. This should not be seen as a burden however, as there are many benefits to registration which will help your charity to grow – including exemption and relief from certain taxes, new funding opportunities, and impoving your credibility.

  • Writing Your Constitution

    A charity’s Governing Document (or constitution) is its rulebook. For registered charities, having a Governing Document is a legal requirement. Even if it’s not an obligation for your charity, it’s still a good idea to produce one.

  • Management Committee (Trustees)

    A charity’s Management Committee (its Trustees) are a group of volunteers who have ultimate responsibility for the organisation. They take the major decisions for how the charity is run, on issues such as finance and legal compliance.

  • Annual General Meeting (AGM) Guide

    The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is where the Trustees report on the charity’s activities and finances in the year. New Trustees and officers may be elected, and resolutions (changes to the Governing Document) proposed and voted on.

  • Insurance

    There are many different types of insurance that a charity may be required to have, such as Employers’ Liability Insurance. Others may not be applicable to your organisation, such as Vehicle Insurance. This document outlines the main types of insurance you might be required to have in place.

  • Business Planning

    Having a Business Plan is not a legal requirement, but is a very good idea as it will help you plan for the future. A business plan should clearly state your aims and objectives, which will help you to draw up a workplan.

  • Typical Voluntary Sector Policies

    Along with your Governing Document, you will need Policies which go into more detail about specific areas of your organisation’s work, such as Data Protection, Financial Procedures, and Flexible Working. This document lists the most common policies for charitable organisations.

Further Reading