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Governing document

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Information on governing documents for charities, and sample documents.

Contents of a governing document

When an organisation is formally established, it adopts a governing document or set of rules. The governing document is the legal structure of the organisation. It should set out:

      • the name of the organisation
      • its purposes or ‘objects’: the statement of what the organisation is set up to do
      • its powers: how it carries out its purposes 
      • rules about membership of the organisation, if relevant
      • rules about who can be a trustee and how they are elected or appointed
      • procedures for calling general meetings (of members) and trustee board meetings
      • rules about changing the governing document or closing the organisation.

Different types of governing document

The form of your governing document will depend on the legal structure of your charity.

Type of organisation Governing document
Trust Trust deed
Charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) Constitution
Unincorporated association Constitution
Company limited by guarantee Memorandum and articles of association

Sample governing documents

Sample governing documents on the Charity Commission website

Page last edited May 19, 2022

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