Intermediate Body constitutions

Most Intermediate Bodies have constitutions, some of which have been accepted by the Charity Commission. See here for a list. Wondering if you need to register as a charity?

If you are creating or amending an Intermediate Body constitution, here are some principles which are worth keeping in mind:

  • Don't just write a constitution, write a modus operandi document (call it something more exciting!) backed up by a constitution. The emphasis and creativity should be on/in the modus operandi document. Look at what the North East has done (they call it a foundation document) but be aware that their constitution is probably  more detailed than most Intermediate Bodies need. Their documentation can be downloaded from this page.
  • Keep it simple. Put only what you actually have to in the constitution. Remember that it is a legal document, or will be, and it will cost money to change. So put in as little as possible. Try to be as open minded as you can and assume nothing. For example, too many IB constitutions talk about councils and executives and forums because at one time it was assumed these would always be there. People are now getting rid of them. Do not put anything like that in your constitution but leave all that detail for the modus operandi document. An excellent model is the Birmingham Churches Together constitution (on this page), which is admirably simple. Be aware, though, that it was approved by the Charity Commission some time ago and they are in the process of re-negotiating it, so if you are looking for something acceptable to the Charity Commission, check it out with Colin Marsh.
  • Hedge your bets. Even when you have to put something in the constitution, insert 'usually' or 'normally' so that you have some flexibility.
  • The members of your Intermediate Body are the Churches, not the Church Leaders, ie Churches, not people. Trustees, on the other hand, are people. It is crucial, therefore, that your Trustees are Church Leaders or that the majority of your Trustees are Church Leaders. The simplest is to link Trusteeship with an office or task. Ensure you have a way of bringing new Churches into membership.
  • It may be better to leave out of your constutition how other bodies or networks associate with your Intermediate Body. That makes for more flexibility. But if you are determined to put it in your constitution, ensure that you make a distinction between Churches (it's key that the Church Leaders' meeting is a peer group) and other bodies.
  • Ensure both documents are clear about how they can be changed and don't make either too complicated or detailed, especially the modus operandi.
  • Ensure that you are very clear about accountability in both documents.

Jenny Bond is glad to help with constitutions and should be kept informed when they are being changed.

 

 

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