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Drawing up a constitution for your community group

Updated: 01 Sep 2014
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Your association must work for the benefit of the whole community it represents
Craigavon housing estate
Every community group needs a constitution. We can offer you help and advice in creating one.

What is a constitution?

A constitution is an important document which should be formally adopted/agreed at the public meeting when you set up your association. It takes into account what your association intends to do during its first year, and makes provision for possible future developments of the association. It is a legal document which, once adopted, requires a formal procedure to alter it.
The constitution states the intentions of your association to work for the benefit of the whole community it represents. It indicates to statutory and voluntary bodies that the association is open, is acting in good faith and intends to work in a clear and business-like way.

Why do you need a constitution?

Once the decision has been made to form a community association you need a constitution:
  • to state how your association is to be structured
  • to detail the safeguards needed to ensure that it operates fairly on behalf of the whole community
  • as a basic requirement to apply for funding (For example, a small seeding grant from a district council or larger amounts from grant making trusts will require the submission of the constitution to confirm that the association is genuine.

How do we draw up a constitution?

You can use and adapt one used by a similar association. SCNI can recommend constitutions for different groups, for example, a women's group, a senior citizens' group, a pre-school playgroup, as well as a community association. This can help groups to draw up a constitution.
A draft community association constitution is available as an example. Alternatively, your group may wish to put together its own unique constitution. Whichever way you decide, your constitution should include:
  • name
  • objects
  • membership
  • management committee
  • finance
  • trust property
  • annual general meeting
  • special general meeting
  • rules of procedure at all meetings
  • alterations to the constitution
  • dissolution
The SCNI Factsheet "Understanding your Constitution" will give you more information.  You can request one from them through their website.