(Version March 2004)
The data used in this report was derived from seminars with Charity Commission staff, meetings with individuals and groups of charities and an examination of the Charity Commission’s extensive casework archive.
In addition an independent research company was commissioned to undertake a postal survey of 3000 charities in England and Wales during December 2003. The survey achieved a response rate of 50% (1508 questionnaires) which is an excellent response rate for this type of survey. This allows a confidence interval exceeding +/- 3%, which is industry standard.
The survey sample was stratified into the following income bands:
Charities were asked to classify the type of activity that they undertook:
Table 1: Number of Individual Members – by Income
£1m or more
BASE (All with individual members)
Up to 5
Don’t know/not stated
Average number of members per charity
Table 2: Number of Individual Members – by Main Activity
Note: Other columns excluded as too small for analysis
Table 3: Number of Other Members – by Income
BASE (All with other members)
* Low bases
Table 4: Summary of Member types
Table 5: Combination of Member Types – by income (excluding charities that have no members)
BASE (All with members)
Individual and corporate and other
Individual and corporate
Individual and other
Corporate and other
Table 6: Combination of Member Types – by income (including charities that have no members)
* Less than 0.5%
Table 7: Combination of member types – by Main Activity (excluding charities that have no members)
* Low base ** Very low base
Table 8: Combination of Member Types – by Age of Charity
5 years or less
Table 9: Combination of Member Types – by Main Area Worked in (including charities that have no members)
Table 10: Reasons for thinking individual members useful/not useful
Gives users of charity a say / influence in how it's run
They help / contribute / participate
Members provide diverse opinions
Members' feedback is useful to committee / trustees
Members ensure services remain relevant to their / customers needs
We get the benefit of their experience
We get the benefit of their support
Ensures charity is democratically run
Members provide financial support / contribute financially
Trustees / committee elected from membership
We get the benefit of their expertise and skills
Charity is run by the members for the members
Charity would not exist without the members
Too few attend AGMs
Too few vote/participate
Note: Many other responses were given at a lower level.
Table 11: Reasons for thinking corporate members useful/not useful
BASE (All with corporate members)
They provide financial support
Provide useful advice
Oversee how the charity is run
Provide connection/influence with local council/public sector
Get good cross section of opinions
Table 12: Terms used to describe other members
An AGM is an Annual General Meeting, open to all members.
Charitable company means a company formed and registered under the Companies Act 1985 or one to which the provisions of that Act apply, and which is established for charitable purposes.
Charity trustees are the people having the general control and management of the administration of a charity, regardless of what they are called. For instance, in the case of an unincorporated association the executive or management committee are its charity trustees, and in the case of a charitable company it is the directors who are the charity trustees.
The Companies Act means the Companies Act 1985 as amended.
Corporate members include companies, local authorities and other public bodies or organisations for which a nominated representative holds a right to vote at the charity’s annual general meeting on behalf of the organisation that they represent. This category would also include any unincorporated charities and other not-for-profit organisations for whom a representative is a voting member of another charity.
An EGM is an Extraordinary General Meeting (occasionally referred to as a Special General Meeting (SGM) by unincorporated charities) and is any general meeting of members other than an AGM.
Governing document means any document that sets out the charity's purposes and, usually, how it is to be administered. It may be a trust deed, a constitution, memorandum and articles of association, rules, conveyance, will, Royal Charter, Scheme of the Commissioners or, in relation to an appeal, the published terms of the appeal inviting donations.
Individual Member is an individual with the ability to affect the governance of a charity by voting at the charity’s annual general meeting and who meets all other criteria for a member as set out in the charity’s governing document. Trustees, directors and any other person who is on the governing body are excluded from this definition of a member.
A quorum is the minimum number of people entitled to attend and vote who must be present at a meeting to make valid decisions at that meeting. A quorum can be a fixed number or a percentage of those entitled to attend and vote. The number of people required to form a quorum is usually stated in the governing document.
Fiduciary duties are those that must be carried out for the benefit of the charity’s beneficiaries.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales
Responsibility for charities is split between our three offices. Further information can be obtained from the Commission at:
13-15 Bouverie Street
12 Princes Dock
Gwent NP19 7AA
Tel: 0870 3330123
Minicom: 0870 3330125
Arbitration and Conciliation Service (ACAS)
ACAS is an organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes
180 Borough High Street
London SE1 1LW
Tel: 020 7210 3613
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO)
ACEVO provides good practice resources and information on sector issues.
83 Victoria Street
Tel: 0845 345 8481
Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF)
ACF promotes and supports the work of charitable grant-making trusts and foundations.
2 Plough Yard
Shoreditch High Street
Tel: 020 7422 8600
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)
CEDR is widely regarded as a leading provider of alternative dispute resolution services.
1 Harbour Exchange Square
London E14 9GB
Tel: 020 7536 6000
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)
CAF helps non-profit organisations in the UK and overseas to increase, manage and administer their resources.
Kent ME19 TA
Tel: 01732 520 000
Charity Trustee Networks
This charity offers mutual support by encouraging and developing self-help trustee network groups proving cost effective, peer to peer consultancy and mentoring.
PO Box 633
Tel: 01428 682252
Directory of Social Change (DSC)
The Directory promotes positive social change and provides a wide range of resources for trustees.
24 Stephenson Way
Liverpool L1 9BW
Tel (books): 020 7209 5151
Tel (training and events): London 020 7209 4949 & Liverpool 0151 708 0117
Electoral Reform Society
The Electoral Reform Society is a membership organisation which campaigns for improvements in democracy, particularly through the use of better voting systems.
6 Chancel Street
London SE1 0UU
Tel: 020 7928 1622
Ethnic Minority Foundation (EMF) and the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO)
EMF and CEMVO develop resources for black and minority ethnic organisations, these include networking and training opportunities and a trustee register.
London E15 1NG
Tel: 020 84320 307
HM Customs and Excise
For information relating to VAT queries refer to your local telephone directory for the contact details. General information is available from:
Tel: 0845 0109000
Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
ICSA provides information and good practice guidance on governance issues affecting the sector. They also have a trustee register available to charities needing new trustees.
16 Par Crescent
London W1B 1 AH
Tel: 020 7580 4741
Institute of Fundraising
The Institute of Fundraising aims to promote the highest standards of fund-raising practice.
1 Nine Elms Street
London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 3436
Mediation UK is a national voluntary organisation dedicated to developing means of resolving conflicts in communities.
Bristol BS1 4BS
Tel: 0117 904 6661
National Association for Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS)
The NACVS network provides a wide range of information and support for charities.
National Association for Councils for Voluntary Service
3rd Floor Arundel Court
177 Arundel Street
Sheffield S1 2NU
Tel: 0114 278 6636
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
Information available on fund-raising and governance issues and a range of general support services. The NCVO plans to publish a Good Membership Guide later this year.
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
8 All Saints Street
London N1 9RL
Tel: 020 7713 6161
Website: www.ncvo-vol.org.uk, www.askncvo.org.uk
Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)
WCVA supports charities and the voluntary sector in Wales.
Mount Stuart Square
Cardiff CF10 5FH
Tel: 029 20431700
3 Rectory Grove
Subscriptions tel: 020 7819 1200
Mitre House Publishing
The Clifton Centre
110 Clifton Street
London EC2A 4HD
Subscriptions tel: 020 7729 6644
Subscriptions tel: 020 7426 0496 / 0123
The Guardian / Society
The Society section in Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian is particularly useful.
Subscriptions tel: 020 8606 7500
Adirondack. S et al., (2001) The Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook, 2nd Ed. Directory Of Social Change. London
Rt. Hon. Blunkett, David, MP., Home Secretary (June 2003), “Civil Renewal: A New Agenda”, Speech made at the CSV Edith Kahn Memorial Lecture. London
Bremridge.T., (2003) Outsourcing the servicing of supporters. Charities Management Autumn 2003
Cabinet Office, (2002) Private action, Public Benefit: A Review of Charities and the Wider Not-For-Profit Sector
Canavon. M., and Smith. P., (2001) Representing the People – Democracy and Diversity. LGA Publications. London.
Charity Commission, (2003) The Charity Commission and Regulation
Charity Commission, (2002) Charities and Commercial Partners (RS2)
Charity Commission, (2003) Collaborative Working and Mergers (RS4)
Charity Commission, (2000) Charities and Meetings (CC48)
Charity Commission, (2003) Model Memorandum and Articles of Association for a Charitable Company (GD1)
Charity Commission ,(1998) Model Constitution for a Charitable Unincorporated Association (GD3)
Charity Commission, (2000) The Recreational Charities Act 1958 (RR4)
Charity Commission, (2002) Responsibilities of Charity Trustees (CC3)
Charity Commission, (2002) Trustee Recruitment, Selection and Induction (RS1)
Charity Commission, (2000) Users on Board: Beneficiaries who become trustees (CC24)
Deakin. N., (2001) In search of Civil Society. Palgrave. London
Hayes. D., and Slater. A., (2003) From "social club" to "integrated membership scheme": Developing membership schemes strategically. International Journal of Non Profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing. Volume 8 No 1 February 2003
Jas.P., et al (2002) The UK Voluntary Sector Almanac. NCVO Publications. London
Morris. D., (2003) Disputes in the Charitable Sector. Charity law Unit, University of Liverpool.
NCVO (in partnership with the Centre for Effective Resolution) (2003) You’re not listening to me. NCVO. London
Pharaoh. C., (2003) Charity Trends 2003 24th Ed. CAF, London
Picarda. H., (1995) The law and practice relating to charities, 2nd Ed., Butterworths, London.
Powell. F., and Guerin. D., (1999) Civil Society and Active Citizenship: The role of the voluntary sector. Association for Voluntary Action Research in Ireland.
Travers.T., (2003) A trip down memory lane. Public Finance July 18-24
Warburton. J., (1995) Tudor on Charities, 8th Ed., Sweet & Maxwell. London.
Warburton. J., (1992) Unincorporated Associations; Law & Practice 2nd Ed. Sweet & Maxwell. London
WCVA, (2002) Faith and hope don’t run charities (trustees do): a practical guide to voluntary members of management committees. Cardiff.
Wilson. A., (1993) Friendly Societies – A Guide to the New Law (1993) Butterworths, London.
We would like to thank all the charities who gave their time to contribute to the research for this report. Special thanks also to Dr Helen Cameron and Professor Jean Warburton for their help and valuable insights.
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