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ONECAN Toolkit: Developing a governing document / constitution

Developing a governing document / constitution

Once a need to form a new community group has been identified and an appropriate legal structure determined, the next step in establishing a community group is to develop a suitable governing document. The type of governing document varies depending on the chosen legal structure but for a community group in its simplest form, it will be a constitution.  

A governing document/constitution will define what the community group is being established to achieve and how it will operate; essentially it is a formal set of rules that will bring structure. Key considerations when drafting a governing document/constitution include:

  • What is the group’s legal name?
  • What are the group’s purposes?
  • Who is eligible to become a member?
  • How is the management committee (chairperson, treasurer, secretary and any additional members) elected and what are its powers?
  • What are the rules for meetings?
  • What procedures are in place for managing the group’s finances?
  • In the event of being dissolved, what will happen to the group’s assets?

When developing a governing document/constitution it’s useful to refer to a template. VASLan provides a template for a community group in its simplest form while SCVO provides a range of templates for common legal structures. Although templates can be easily adapted to suit, it is however important that the content and purpose of each individual clause is understood and will meet the specific needs of the group.

For further information or support with developing a governing document/constitution, please see VASLan’s Resource Kit or contact Ann Sangster ( or Joanne McMann (

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