Start and run a group

Do you want to make a difference in your local community?

Whether you want to start a neighbourhood group, organise a fun day, set up a community allotment or hold a mini arts festival, this simple guidance will explain how to set up a voluntary organisation and make a start. There are a few rules you need to be aware of but it doesn’t have to be difficult and we are here to help you all the way.

The information listed will provide the essential things you need to know and actions to take for your organisation to get off the ground.

All the information provided here is for guidance purposes only – please seek specialist advice if you have a particular issue to resolve. Contact RVA on 0118 937 2273 or email advice@rva.org.uk

If it’s a neighbourhood group you are planning, you might like to take a look at the new Reading Neighbourhood Network website to see what like-minded people are up to.


All the information is for guidance purposes only – please seek specialist advice if you have a particular issue to resolve.

  • Accounting Records and Reporting to the Charities Commission

    Unsure whether you need to prepare accounts, what form this should take and whether you have to file them with the Charities Commission? What about Annual Returns and Trustee’s Reports? This simplfied factsheet is an introduction to reporting and provides a checklist for all organisations including community associations, CIOs and charitable companies.

  • AGM guide

    Are you unsure about how to hold an AGM? This short guide takes you through the process step by step.

  • Committee Minutes

    Courtesy of “Community Matters’, this information sheet sets out some guidelines on minutes of meetings; setting out what they should contain and dealing with some commonly used terms.

  • Complete your first constitution

    Your Constitution (sometimes called the governing document) outlines key basic rules and principles which you must follow. The purpose of the Constitution is to show key people, for example the bank, funders or the contributing public, how you are accountable and how funds are safeguarded.

  • Constitution template in MS Word format

    You can type into this MS Word document, removing RVA’s ‘top and tail’ and adding your own, in order to create your group’s constitution.

  • Creating a community profile: Neighbourhood walkabouts

    A Neighbourhood Walk is a way of surveying the opinions of residents about their community. Courtesy of ‘Community Matters’, this information sheet gives advice on how best to organise such a survey and coach the participants.

  • Financial Rules for community groups

    This specimen document sets out an example of the financial rules that should be adopted by an organisation. It is in MS Word format and access is courtesy of ‘Community Matters’.

  • Fireworks Legislation

    Courtesy of ‘Community Matters’, this document outlines the laws and licensing issues surrounding the use of fireworks.

  • Food safety and food hygiene guide

    Courtesy of ‘Community Matters’, this technical guidance note explains the Food Safety Act and Food Hygiene Regulations and will help community organisations to produce safe food and to meet their other responsibilities.

  • Insurance, DBS and music licences – Are you legal?

    Organising community events and activities is great fun but it can also cause worry if organisers are unsure what their responsibilities are and how to keep everyone safe.This handout provides some answers to issues around protecting children or vulnerable adults and acquiring insurance and licences.

  • Start up guide for new neighbourhood groups

    Whether you want to organise a fun day, set up a community allotment or hold a mini arts festival this simple guide will explain how to set up a neighbourhood group and make a start.

  • Street Fairs and Licences

    Street fairs and stalls are a great way of raising awareness about your voluntary or community group, as well as raising a bit of much needed extra cash. This guide aims to help you to do this legally and will look at how to apply for the correct licences in advance.

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