Choosing a legal structure
Choosing a legal structure is about deciding how your group will be run, how decisions will be made, and how formal the organisation needs to be.
Think carefully about what you actually want your group to do. Many small, volunteer run groups only need a fairly informal structure which doesn’t require lots of work to set up or maintain.
These pages will help you understand the basics of different legal structures, so that you can get on with running your group.
Use this RouteMap to help you work out what legal structure is right for your not-for-profit group.
These books are available at the Resource Centre, to borrow or to use in the Centre.
- Charitable Incorporated Organisations
- Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Key Guide)
- Charities - The New Law 2006
- Charities and Public Benefit
- Community Matters: Reference Manual for Community Organisations Advisers
- Simply Governance: A comprehensive guide to understanding the systems & processes concerned with the running of a sustainable community enterprise
- Simply Legal: All you need to know about legal forms and organisational types for community enterprises
- Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook
The services listed below are not provided by the Resource Centre. These are websites and services we feel are particularly useful for small groups in Brighton & Hove, and which are not easy to find by searching the internet.
Most useful services for local groups
Help with developing constitutions and sample constitutions, Information on charities and charity law, Information on insurance, Information on legal structures, Information on managing money, Information on running a group, Information on running childrens groups, Information on setting up a company, Risk Assessment (Financial and Organisational)
Very comprehensive website with information how to set up a charity, legal guidance, and a database of all registered charities. Also has specialist guidance section specifically aimed at small groups wanting to become charities.
The Charity Commission is now part of the GOV.uk site, which can make it difficult to search for the information you need. They advise you to:
- always include 'charity commission' in your search terms, eg 'report serious incident charity commission'
- enter your search term, then select 'Charity Commission' from the drop down list of 'Organisations' on the search results page
Some specific guidance you may find useful:
- Information on the regulations about accounts and reporting for registered charities
- Guidance on the forms of insurance available to charity trustees, highlighting the importance of risk assessment
- Model governing documents for charities, including unincorporated associations and small charities
- Guidance about trustee conflicts of interest, including employing trustees
- Enquiries form
Information for social enterprises and co-operatives, Information on charities and charity law, Information on legal structures, Information on running a group, Online tools to help choose a legal structure
Free online reference and decision-making tool for charities, social enterprises and co-operative organisations.
Get Legal has been developed by NCVO, with support from BWB, to enable organisations to access information and guidance on the most appropriate legal form and governance structure for delivering their goals.
A useful collection of simple information sheets on running groups, covering things like What Insurance do we need?, The committee's essential responsibilities, A Glossary of Committee and Meeting terms, Committee rifts and disputes, How well does your group run?, and a Good Practice Guide on Volunteering.
- Getting outside help with running a sports group
- Information for social enterprises and co-operatives
- Information on charities and charity law
- Information on legal structures
- Information on managing community and voluntary sector groups
- Information on running a group
- Information on setting up a company
- Legal advice
- Online tools to help choose a legal structure