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Setting up an organisation

Getting Started

One of the first things to consider when starting up an organisation is whether the need or issue you perceive is already being addressed.  Research local needs, issues and groups and Charity Commission search page to find out what other organisations exist in your area.

Your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) should be able to provide you with advice about setting up a new not for profit organisation, and will also be able to let you know what projects and organisations already exist in your local area. CVSs are local organisations which represent, support and promote the voluntary sector in their area. You can find your local CVS here. 

Introductions and overviews

Setting up a non profit organisation from KnowHow NonProfit offers a great overview of the issues to consider and is well illustrated with case studies and links.

This guidance on setting up and registering from VolResource provides an overview of the facts and a range of links to further support.

NCVO and Bates Wells Braithwaite’s Get Legal is a decision making tool that can help you decide what legal structure is best for your organisation. You need to register to use it but the sign up process is quick and easy.


The Charity Commission’s guidance on starting up a charity, includes a useful section to help you consider whether or not starting a charity is appropriate.

The Charity Commission guidance leaflet Choosing and Preparing a Governing Document covers everything you need to know about how to adapt or create an appropriate governing document for your organisation.

Social enterprise

This guide to setting up a social enterprise from Business Link runs through the organisational forms suitable for ‘not for profit’ organisations.

UNLTD and Hefce's Social Enterprise Awards Kit is a practical , accessible guide - it is aimed at entrepreneurs but is useful for all committee members of new and developing voluntary organisations too.

Information Pack on Community Interest Companies from the CIC regulator.

Keeping it Legal from Bates Wells Braithwaite solicitors is a guide to legal structures for social enterprises.

Further resources for social enterprise are available here.

Support and regulatory organisations