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We’ve made our member-only resources free to everyone because of the current situation. We think it’s important people have the guidance they need to run their organisations during this time.

If you want to find out more about how you can volunteer to help deal with coronavirus, see our volunteering and coronavirus page.

If you are looking for advice on coronavirus and your charity, please see our dedicated coronavirus page.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

Before you sign a contract

This page is free to all
A list of points to consider carefully before a voluntary organisation signs a contract


Use this checklist to make sure you have considered all the implications of entering into a contract. 
This information is from Sustainable Funding – a guide for trustees which can provide more detailed advice. Please also see the Knowhow page Is contracting right for us?

  • Legal and professional advice has been sought, if appropriate, and duly considered. See the Legal and Professional Advice section below which includes links to Knowhow pages.
  • The organisation is legally empowered in its governing document to enter into the contract.
  • The contract maintains the independence and purpose of the organisation.
  • The implications of the contract for trading have been considered (for example, in relation to the need for a trading subsidiary). 
  • The risks placed on the organisation by the contract have been assessed and are reasonable.
  • The contract is commercially fair to the organisation.
  • The organisation is aware of the costs involved in delivering the contract. 
  • The terms of the contract are fully understood by, directors, trustees and senior staff.
  • Any contract terms relating to underperformance or failure to deliver are fully understood.
  • VAT implications have been considered. 
  • The organisation has the skills and resources to carry out the contract.
  • The implications for governance have been considered (for example any relationship between a contractor and your trustees, director or senior staff members).
  • The risks to the organisation and trustees, directors and senior members of staff have been considered (for example in relation to unincorporated organisations).

Sustainable Funding – a guide for trustees is available free to NCVO members and is £20 for non members.

Legal and professional advice

LawWorks is a broker for advice from pro bono lawyers to small voluntary organisations. It runs a free legal clinic in association with Community Matters and Dechert LLP. Solicitors and law firms run pro bono programmes and it may also be worth asking them directly.

NCVO produces a Quick Guide to Seeking Legal Support, free to members and £5.82 for non members, which suggests how to find free and low-cost sources of legal advice.

You can find general legal information from our Knowhow site: 
• Legal forms for organisations 
• Introduction to legal forms 

For specific advice you can contact a lawyer. Some of the bigger and well known firms include Bates WellsRussell CookeFarrer & Co or Hempsons. Other national or local, smaller, and possibly cheaper, firms can be found in the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor directory that can be filtered by location.

This Charity Commission page provides useful tips for charities on using a trading company to reduce risks and provides general information on delivering public services.

Page last edited Jul 03, 2019

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