We also have a brand new trustee handbook to go alongside the new constitution. Both have been developed with the Charity Commission for England and Wales specifically for Making Music members and will be a huge benefit in helping you to run your group.
Why have we developed a new constitution?
Our old model constitution was many years old and needed updating. Our own assessment, alongside that of the Charity Commission and member feedback, identified areas of the old version that did not sufficiently cover certain aspects of running your group. There were cases where this led to governance issues for groups and caused confusion for members and trustees.
The new constitution addresses these issues and is a much more thorough document in setting out the rules and framework of how your charity should be run. It will ensure you are compliant with the latest charity regulation, makes clear what is expected of both trustees and the wider membership and brings greater clarity regarding what the group’s responsibilities as a charity are and how it should be governed.
Why should you adopt the new model constitution?
We know many of you are using the previous version of our model constitution or have constitutions of your own. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this we strongly encourage all groups to seriously think about adopting our new model constitution.
For those already registered as a charity:
Even if you are already registered it is well worth adopting the new constitution. As a Charity Commission approved document it will put you on very solid footing with charity governance and help you to run your charity in an efficient and responsible way.
If you do ever experience any issues with governance, having a strong, Charity Commission approved constitution will put you in the best position possible to deal with them in a timely and effective way. It will also enable us at Making Music to provide you with the best possible advice as we will be working with our own document.
For those not registered:
If you are not registered with the Charity Commission (remember that any unincorporated association with an income over £5k/year must register with the Charity Commission) then the above of course also applies to you.
On top of this, if/when you do have to register, using our model constitution will put you in the fast track to registration - making the process quicker and easier. If you do adopt the new constitution and need to register with the Charity Commission please contact us first so we can make sure you are fast tracked.
What has changed from the previous version?
Many of the changes are relatively small and focus on tightening and updating the wording. However, there are three key areas, based on the most frequent members’ governance issues, where the changes are more significant and will really benefit your group. These are:
- Charitable objects – we have added an optional object for groups with a membership restricted to a particular group (e.g. disabled choir)
- Membership – we have added clauses to clarify the procedures for membership administration and termination
- Trustees – we have added clauses to clarify and strengthen rules regarding appointment, removal and payment of trustees, as well as conflicts of interest
Associate members: if you are an associate member looking to become a charitable organisation and convert to full membership (which gives you access to cheaper insurance rates) the new constitution is ideal for you and will be a big help in getting you set up as a charity. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0207 422 8280 (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm) to find out more about this. We would also really appreciate you filling in the survey at the bottom of the page to help us plan.
Scotland: OSCR have also approved the model constitution for use by charities in Scotland.
Northern Ireland: we are currently speaking with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland regarding approval of this document. Any charities based in Northern Ireland can contact us for further details.
How do you adopt the new constitution?
This will depend on the amendment clause of your current constitution. Generally a member vote of a two thirds majority at an AGM or SGM is needed. In addition to this, if you are a registered charity you will need prior written consent from the Charity Commission. However, we are looking at ways to make this an easier process for you – see 'What next below' for more details…
Access the Constitution
You can download the new constitution and handbook our Resource library. There are detailed guidance notes with the constitution explaining how to use it and providing extra information on some of the clauses. Please ensure you read the guidance thoroughly.
We continue to work with the Charity Commission to find ways to help you with charity governance. We are currently looking at three areas for service and resource development:
- Mass conversion to the new constitution – the possibility of arranging a mass conversion for any members who want to adopt the new constitution. This would make the adoption process much simpler, especially for registered charities. In order for this to go ahead we need a substantial number of members interested in this option
- Assistance with registration – we are looking at trialling a charity registration service for our members – we would complete the registration on your behalf making the process quicker and easier for you
- Charitable Incorporated Organisation model constitution – the charity commission have said, depending on demand, they will look into the possibility of developing a Making Music model constitution for the CIO charity structure
To help us plan out activities in this areas we would really appreciate your opinion; please take a few minutes to fill in the survey below. There are two different versions of the survey - one for full members and one for associate members - please ensure you fill in the correct version. If you are unsure please email us at email@example.com or call us on 0207 422 8280 (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm).
Please note: the surveys relate to our work with the Charity Commission for England and Wales - so groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland should not fill them in.