The full name for a community group is ‘Voluntary and Community Group'. A Voluntary and Community Group is defined as ‘a group or organisation which works for the public benefit’.

Voluntary and Community Groups have the following characteristics:

  • Organised. A Voluntary and Community group has a structure with rules about how the group is organised and run. This is called a 'governing document' or 'constitution'.
  • Self-governing and independent from any other organisation. Voluntary and Community groups are independent and are free to appoint their own management committee.
  • Not for Profit. No one from within the group will profit from the group. For example, committee members should not be paid for their work and any profits generated should be reinvested in the group.
  • Voluntary. Voluntary and Community groups are governed by a voluntary management committee and may rely on the support of volunteers to carry out their activities.
  • Public/community benefit. The group will carry out activities which benefit a particular group of people within the community.

These are very general characteristics which leave room for groups to take one of several legal structures. The structure you choose will depend on what kind of work you plan to undertake.

We’ll come back to the question of legal structures a little later.