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Setting the ground rules

When you're setting up a group, it's important to clarify how your organisation will work. You can do this with your constitution. 

You should also define the expected standards of behaviour. This will be your code of conduct. 

We've outlined the basics for you here... 


Your constitution

What's a constitution?

A constitution is a simple document that outlines the functions and the rules under which the organisation will operate. 

Together with your policies and procedures, it will help to protect your members and make your organisation run more smoothly.   


Why do we need one? 

Your constitution sets out the fundamental principles of your organisation.

A good constitution will: 

  • Explain to members (and non-members) what your group is about. 
  • Help protect members and officers. 
  • Make it clear how procedures should work. 
  • Clarify and help sort out internal problems. 
  • Underpin funding applications, as most funding bodies will not consider applications from groups without a constitution. 
  • Enable your group to become incorporated. 


When do we need one? 

It's a good idea to draw up a draft constitution before your first meeting. 

You can then agree upon your core principals at an early stage. 

Having a constitution is one of the basics that funding organisations will expect to see if you're applying for a grant.

You'll also need to ensure that it is regularly updated. 

Essentials for your constitution

Your constitution should meet your group's particular needs. You may also have specific requirements from your national governing body. 

Here are some of the basics that you should include... 


The name of the club
State the name of the club and any abbreviations or acronyms that you'll be known by. If applicable, state which national governing body you'll be affiliated to.
Aims and objectives
The objectives should clearly state the reasons why the organisation exists.
Define the various categories of membership that you'll be offering.
Sport equity
Explain what sports equity means to your club. It's vital that the constitution is open and non-discriminatory and that it reflects the sport's equity policy. A club constitution is often a prerequisite for funding and applying for tax relief.
Specify how your committee should be formed and how they should look after the interests of the club. It would be normal to specify which positions sit on the committee.
Ensure that the financial affairs are managed in an efficient manner, that protects the individual committee members. Use this section to explain how this will be achieved.
AGMs and EGMs
Use this section to explain the protocols and procedures for your annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings.
Amendments to the constitutions
Explain the procedures to make any changes to your constitution.
Discipline and appeals
Outline the club’s disciplinary procedure.     
The procedures covering the dissolution of the club must be agreed.

In the event of funds remaining after debts have been settled, members may wish to specify that such funds should be given to some associated organisation e.g. the governing body of the sport concerned.

The wording must comply with funding conditions.
Even before your group holds its initial meeting (or at least at one of your early meetings) it would be advisable to draw up a draft constitution.

Your group can then confirm the details, and move forwards with the finalised constitution in place, as quickly as possible.

Your code of conduct

It's the responsibility of everybody involved in your group to ensure that it's a safe place. 

This means it should be free from discrimination, fear and risk (wherever possible). 

It's important to set standards of acceptable behaviour. These can be defined in a code of conduct.

Ideally the code of conduct must apply to everyone involved in your club.

This should include:   

  • Adult members. 
  • Junior members. 
  • Club officials.
  • Volunteers. 
  • Parents and carers.