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All about the constitution

Dictating everything from voting rights to the role of secretary, the constitution is the cornerstone of every swimming club. Read on to access Model Constitutions to use, guidance and an ever expanding range of constitutional FAQs.

All clubs need to be constituted in order to create an entity with which other organisations can operate. They also need a written constitution to ensure all stakeholders can understand how duties are carried out and the rules that need to be followed.

Constituting as a members club/unincorporated club

To aid clubs in the process of becoming constituted the ASA has created a Model Constitution. It is a template allowing you to develop your own document without having to write it from scratch. It also ensures your constitution meets ASA requirements.

Using this model will set up the club as an "unincorporated association" or "members club". This is perhaps the simplest structure as it is not subject to specific laws (like company law to companies) or regulatory requirements (like company house requirements for companies). It is also by far the most popular legal structure of clubs.

The Word version template can be accessed by clicking below. Here you will also find links to a checklist for identifying mandatory and other provisions for your constitution as well as general guidance notes and various annexes on subjects such as the Code of Ethics.

Creating a constitution takes a great deal of thought and application and during the process many questions get raised. We have reproduced the most popular questions the ASA receives on the matter below. It is a list that will be periodically updated to reflect clubs’ concerns. To secure answers simply click on the link.

Constituting as a company (i.e incorporating the club)

As an alternative to being a members club, few clubs have become companies. Turning a club in to a company is known as "incorporating". This will mean adopting Articles of Association and registering the club with the regulator of charities.

Companies House

In general terms incorporation maybe suitable where a club

  • is large
  • has employees
  • delivers service under contractual agreements
  • regularly enters in to commercial contracts
  • owns freehold or leasehold land, buildings or other property.

Some clubs wrongly assume that they should become a company simply so that the Executive Officers don't have any personal liability. Most clubs that incorporate do so as companies limited by guarantee. Each member guarantees to pay an amount if the club becomes insolvent, thereby limiting their liability to that amount. This is often combined when applying for charitable status to the Charity Commision (see below).

The forms required to set up and run a limited company are available from the Companies House website.

At present the ASA doesn't have a template document. However, generic templates are available from the Charity Commision and Companies House websites.

Given the complexity of incorporation, and the regulatory obligations that it caries, clubs are advised to seek professional advice to the individual circumstances.

Registering as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)

Some clubs may be interested in pursuing registration as a CASC.  This option has been open to qualifying sports clubs for several years now and during that time has attracted a number of clubs from an array of sports. For non-property owning clubs, perhaps the key benefit of registration is the ability to claim Gift Aid. At present, over 40 clubs are currently registered CASCs.

It is important that any club considering the move fully researches the requirements of the scheme; the CASC rules set down requirements for registration and not all clubs will necessarily qualify.  To find out more about becoming a CASC click here. There is also an excellent website specifically for CASCs,  which can be accessed by clicking here.

Please note that CASC status should not be confused with charitable status. Click here to read more.

For clubs which are interested in pursuing CASC status, the ASA has prepared a tailored version of the Model Constitution. This will create an unincorporated association, suitable for CASC registration with HMRC.

For clubs registered as a CASC, the ASA has also put together information concerning Gift Aid and a new "Just Giving" opportunity. Click here to read more.

However, perhaps the most important resource in this area is the website of HMRC. The site contains detailed, up to date information, links to the necessary registration forms and also contact details for their Helpline. It can be accessed by clicking here.

Registered CASC or thinking of registering as a CASC?
Following consultation over the summer, the Government has recently announced changes to the CASC scheme which are expected to come into force in 2014. A summary of how those changes may impact upon swimming clubs is available here. Further, detailed information is available from the Government here.

Registering as a charity

Some incorporated clubs and most companies are also charitable. If you are considering seeking charitable status, then visit the website of the regulator for charities in England and Wales, the Charity Commission. Also read our comprehensive document outlining what it means to register as a charity. Simply click here.

For more in-detail information, the ASA has produced a series of documents on registering and running a charitable club:

UPDATE: From April 2013, HMRC is moving Gift Aid online. This means that clubs can sign up to make repayment claims online.

HMRC will be writing to effected clubs in due course but for clubs not currently claiming Gift Aid, but interested in the changes, further information is available from the HMRC website.

Please also be aware that the “Small Donations Scheme” will also go live in April 2013. Under the new scheme, charities that have a track record of making Gift Aid claims will be able claim on small cash donations, without a donor declaration form. Guidance on this will be available from HMRC in due course.

UPDATE: The Charities Act 2011, has now come into force. This large Act of Parliament brings together a number of charity related laws and consolidates them in a single comprehensive act.  The Charities Act is available here.  Reference should therefore be made to the Charities Act 2011 in document prepared on or after its date of implementation (14 March 2012)
 

Constituting as a charitable incorporated organisation (“CIO”)

After years of being in the making, a new legal form for charities has recently been launched. This new  creation has been designed to offer the protection of limited liability status (normally only afforded by a charitable company) but without the burden of dual regulation associated with a charitable company. CIOs will only be regulated by the Charity Commission and it is they who will be managing the application process.

The Charity Commission has produced model governing documents to assist organisations going down the CIO route. These models are generic and it is important that when using them, affiliated clubs are compliant with the ASA requirements for affiliation. Copies are available on the Charity Commission website.

There is also a comprehensive list of common FAQs, such as: “What are the benefits of a CIO?”; “Can an existing unincorporated association convert to become a CIO?”; and “What kind of accounts must a CIO prepare?”.

Although still very early days, it is now possible to apply to the Charity Commission to register as a CIO. It is also possible for existing charities to apply to the Charity Commission to convert to a CIO.

However, interested clubs are recommended to first check with the Charity Commission’s website as it is anticipated that there will be a staggered approach applied to applications, dependent upon income and current status. Further information is available on the Charity Commission website.

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