Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester


Frequently Asked Questions - Planning

How do we know which is the best legal structure for our organisation?

Your organisations status and structure is defined by its ‘governing document’ (the legal document that creates the ‘charity’and says how it should be run). This is usually by having a constitution or Memorandum and Articles.

The type of structure you choose affects how your charity/organisation will operate, such as:

  • who will run it and whether it will have a wider membership
  • whether it can enter into contracts or employ staff in its own name
  • whether the trustees will be personally liable for what the charity does

There are five main types of charity structure:

  • charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
  • charitable company (limited by guarantee)
  • unincorporated association
  • charitable trust
  • charitable community benefit society

What is a Community Incorporate Organisation (CIO)?

A CIO is a relatively new structure if you want your charity to be a corporate body and have a wider membership, including voting members other than the charity trustees. To set you must:

  • have a constitution as your governing document – use the Charity Commission’s model association CIO constitution (or stay very close to it)
  • register your CIO with the Charities Commission for it to legally come into existence
  • keep a register of its members and trustees
  • send its accounts and annual return to the commission each year, regardless of its income

To discuss an idea for a CIO, please contact us and speak to one of our Development Advisors.

What is a Community Interest Company (CIC)?

A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. To be successful at running a CIC you need to generate the majority of your income by delivering a service or product (at the market price).

To set up a CIC, you need to apply to Companies House, and include a ‘community interest statement’, an explanation of what your business plans to do, create an ‘asset lock’ – a legal promise stating that the company’s assets will only be used for its social objectives, and set limits to the money it can pay to shareholders. Your company must also be approved by the Company Regulator.

To discuss an idea for a CIC, please contact us and speak to one of our Development Advisors.

What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan facilitates the good management of an organisation and gives you clarity about what you actually want to achieve and how to go about achieving it. It is different to the plan of action for day-to-day operations.

Here are the main elements of the Strategic Plan:

  • mission, vision and aspirations
  • core values
  • strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • aims and objectives
  • impact and measurements

A strategic plan will enable you to formulate a robust Fundraising Strategy.

What is a fundraising strategy?

A fundraising strategy links back to the strategic plan and shows how you will generate income to fully fund your activities in the short, medium and/or long term. It identifies a range of funding streams and potential funders together with their criteria and amount of funding available. By plotting these funders and their deadlines on a timeline, timely applications/activities can be planned and administered.

What is the difference between a strategy and a policy?

The* strategy* is the best plan opted in order to achieve the organisational goals and objectives. The* policy* is a set of common rules and regulations, which forms as a base to take the day to day decisions.

The strategy is a plan of action while the* policy* is a principle of action.

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