Resources for Voluntary and Community Organisations

If you are setting up, developing or wishing to improve the running of your organisation, the following information and links could be of use:

Starting a New Organisation

Outcomes Monitoring

Legal Structures

Business Planning

Sample Governing Documents


Registering as A Charity

Collaboration & Partnerships

Sample Policies

Marketing, Publicity & Campaigning

Premises and Venues in Wandsworth


Professional Support 

HR & Recruiting Staff 

Social Enterprise

Employment Law Updates from Russell-Cooke Solicitors

CRB Umbrella Bodies, Information Updates and Safeguarding


Are you starting a new organisation?

There are a large number of voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) in the UK.  According to Charity Commission, there are over 160,000 registered charities in England and Wales .Click here to see Sector Fact page on Charity Commission website . We also know that there are numerous voluntary and community groups which are not registered with Charity Commission.  Lifetimes’ research in 2012 found that in Wandsworth alone, there are at least 964 VCOs active in the area (See our report The State of the Sector).  VCOs activities make a significant contribution to building and sustaining a lively and dynamic civil society. 

If you are thinking about setting up a new voluntary or community organisation, have a look at Lifetimes’ guideline ‘Starting a New Organisation’ to help you get started.  It is very important to think very carefully before you start if it is really a good idea to do so, as well as what you need to make the organisation successfully achieving its aim. 

A lot of information, help and advice are also available on-line.  Some of these are listed as below.  To read more please click here.

Community Matters
This webpage has a step-to-step guide to setting up a community group.  You can also buy their downloadable guidance notes on more specific issues.


A useful webpage full of advice to those who are thinking about setting up a (registered) charity, with links to other useful websites.


This NCVO-run website provides information on many aspects of running charities.

Charity Commission

The charity regulator website offers wealth of information about setting up a charity.

The Resource Centre

A charity serving voluntary and community groups in the Brighton and Hove area, providing very detailed and easy to follow information sheets that is useful to everyone in the UK setting up a VCO.  Highly recommended.

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Last updated – 6 August 2013

Which legal structure for your organisation?

Although many voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) are often generally referred to as “charities”, not all of them are technically charities, i.e. organisations that are registered with the Charity Commission and governed by Charity Law. And those which are registered with the Charity Commission are also often registered with Companies House as a Company Limited by Guarantee.

Confusing?  Yes, but there is an important reason behind this. Depending on its aim, activities and structure, each organisation has to carefully consider whether they should register with the Charity Commission, Companies House, neither or both.   

In addition, there is now a new legal structure called Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). There are also many new social enterprises (which are business-orientated but still retain some community interests) emerging, which may opt to become a Community Interest Company (CIC).

So before making a decision, it is vital that you think carefully about advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Here are links to web-based information, as well as the websites of the key organisations and regulatory bodies which have more detailed guidance and information.

The Resource Centre in Brighton and Hove has an interactive flowchart called RouteMap which helps you consider different options available for your organisation.

The Charity Commission website has a wide range of free information and resources available on its website.  Highly recommended as the first port of call if you want to know anything about setting up a charity.

Companies House provides information about setting up a company on its website, including downloads of all the necessary forms.

Community Interest Company Regulator’s website is packed with very useful information and guidance for and about Community Interest Companies.  Particularly insightful are the many case studies that they have made available on the website – if you are not sure if becoming a CIC is right for your organisation, why not have a look at other CICs first?

Below are some other useful resources you might be interested in.

Co-operatives UK: Perhaps the cooperative model would work for your group. According to Co-operatives UK, “co-operative businesses are owned and run by and for their members, whether they are customers, employees or residents. As well as giving members an equal say and share of the profits, co-operatives act together to build a better world.”  They can take different legal structures.  For more information, visit their website at which also lists interesting case studies and has guidance on managing the process of setting up a co-operative.  You can also get help from Catalyst Collective if you are registering your co-op, at

Radical Routes is “a network of housing and worker co-operatives working for radical social change” and their main activity is providing loans to start-up co-ops.  Members include housing co-ops, worker co-ops and social centres and they run regular ‘gatherings’ (meetings).  Their social impact report is very interesting, looking at the wider social impact that their network brings. 

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(Updated on 30 Oct 2013)

Sample Governing Documents

GetLegal Website



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Registering as a Charity 


Lifetimes Guidance Notes - Becoming A Registered Charity


The Charity Commission Website
This site has all the background information you need to become a registered charity and to register online. You can also call their helpline on 0845 300 0218.


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Sample Policies


LVSC Webpages
The London Voluntary Sector Council includes in its website a resources section which includes sample policies


This website has a section on sample policies and procedures

Safe Network Resources

Provides safeguarding information related to activities outside the home, from after school art clubs to weekend reading groups 


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HR Bank

Free sample HR policies and job descriptions


The Resource Centre
Has various sample policies available


Open Source Community
This is a website full of resources, including sample policies


Sample policies:


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Finding Premises

Rent office space at Katherine Low Settlement

Katherine Low Settlement looking for new tenants for 2 of offices here at the Settlement. They will become available for rent mid-July. Each office will fit 2-3 people + desks and other office furniture. They are fully refurbished, so will be sparkling! 

They are looking for charities / social enterprises that would be interested in basing their office from a lively community centre in Battersea. The beauty of which is the cross-pollination between the different community groups and charities that use our centre each week. There are good transport links, a friendly and helpful atmosphere, and we’re very reasonable. For further information please contact Aaron P Barbour on 020 7223 2845 (s/b) or email

More premises

Venues and Premises in Wandsworth - Information Sheet

Community centres in Wandsworth


My Community Space
This organisation find premises and promote space available


WBC Commercial Lettings
Find out about available premises from the Wandsworth Council.


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HR & Recruiting Staff


Target HR
A cross-London human resources (HR) project, providing in-depth, tailor-made support to small voluntary and community organisations to improve HR policies, procedures, skills and knowledge.


Recruiting and Managing Staff


'How To Guides'
This site covers some of the more complex areas of employment practice and HR

Workforce Development Resources from NCVO

Employment law and HR advice from PEACe
Expert support and advice on all employment related issues from LVSC's Personnel, Employment Advice and Conciliation Service (PEACe); Contact the helpline on 0203 349 8921 (First Thursday of every month from 10.00am - 4.00pm) 

Advice and guidance, tools and resources about employment

Open Source Community
A website full of resources, including job descriptions and policies


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Outcomes Monitoring

Insights into Outcomes - Practical help about understanding outcome thinking

CPI have produced a guide for anyone who commissions or provides services. This guide is a companion to "Insights into Innovation". You can download a free copy of Insights into Outcomes here. If you like a printed hard copy please e-mail


Outcomes on-line
Resources on how to set and monitor your outcomes
also check the free downloads:


Explaining the difference your project makes - Outcomes Tools and Publications
Including ‘Outcomes Stars’ 
The BIG Lottery’s official guidance on outcomes for grant applicants and recipients


Evaluation Support Scotland
Various guides on monitoring and developing outcomes


Social Return on Investment (SROI)

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Business Planning


WVSDA Guidance Notes Planning your Project


WVSDA Guidance Notes - Business Planning for Small Organisations


Strategy for non-profits
Find out about the strategy development process and how to do it well.


Strategy and Impact
NCVO pages on strategic planning



Strategic insight and planning tools for the UK voluntary and community sector


Strategic Planning – basic information and case studies


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ICT Champions
Short, jargon-free answers and links to useful information.


A charity which offers knowledge, support and resources.  Contact on 0207 377 2748 or;


The UK's leading national IT volunteering programme. Helps charities, community groups and social enterprises access free IT support from IT professional volunteers.


Software Donation
The Charity Technology Exchange provides a comprehensive range of services and equipment  to UK-based registered charities, enabling charities to save 92-96% on typical retail prices;


Donate a PC
Free 'matchmaking' service for individuals and organisations to donate un-needed hardware (computers, printers etc) to UK charities, not-for-profit organisations and educational establishments.


Social Media
Get to grips with the growing social media landscape.


Collaboration & Partnerships





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Marketing, Publicity & Campaigning


Voluntary Arts Resources
Check the information available on their section on ‘Running your Group’. You now need to register to access this information. It includes items such as:
• ‘How do we plan a marketing campaign?’
• ‘How do we create a newsletter?’
• ‘How do we create an accessible website?’


Practical skills for campaigning groups


Effective Campaigns – NCVO resources


Campaigns and awareness



Professional Support

Offers free capacity building support to the voluntary sector

Running Your Group
Offers guidance on all aspects of running a voluntary group. Whether it’s attracting new members, starting a committee or fundraising advice.

Media Trust

Offers professional support to help you with your communications and media.

Provides skilled volunteers with the right management, professional, technical or business expertise to help voluntary organisations achieve their full potential 


A charity which aims to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for it.


Free Law Direct 
This is the online legal advice service from LawWorks. The project aims to assist charities, frontline advice agencies and other not-for-profit organisations, by providing initial legal advice from qualified solicitors. If you have a quick legal question, you can use Free Law Direct to ask a lawyer online.


The UK's leading national IT volunteering programme. Helps charities, community groups and social enterprises access free IT support from IT professional volunteers.


The Cranfield Trust
A national charity providing free management consultancy for charities and social enterprise groups involved in issues of poverty, disability or social exclusion.


Pilotlight matches talented business people with charities helping charities and social enterprises to grow.


Trainers and Consultants Direct 
Search for Consultants and Trainers experienced in working with charities and third sector organisations.

Translation Services
Merton Translation Service provides language services in more than 80 languages and local dialects, including British Sign Language.

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Lifetimes Resources

Lifetimes Reports and Papers

Policy Briefings

LSP Briefings

E-bulletins & Annual Reports

Policy Briefings

Social Value Act

March 2013 Budget

The riots one year on

The Queen's Speech

The Olympics and the VCS

Open Public Services

London Riots

GP Commissioning

Health and Wellbeing Partnership

The Equality Act

Compact - update

The Big Society

The Emergency Budget

Personalisation - update

Social Enterprise

Social Return on Investment