You might think that membership is not very complicated, but not understanding the roles of members can result in very complicated confusion!
Whether or not your organisation intends to have a membership may affect your choice of legal structure. There is only one legal structure that does not have a membership and that is a charitable trust
The main confusions that may arise with membership are:
- Failure to maintain an up to date membership register.
- The difference between the role of members and that of the trustees (who may also be members!)
- Are members an asset or a liability?
- Voting procedures at AGMs
- Disputes between members and committees
The Charity Commission guidance addresses these issues and provides comprehensive coverage of the advantages and disadvantages of membership organisations as well as governance advice, and best practice.
A membership form for a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (association model)
If you are expecting a template I am afraid that you are going to be disappointed. I am going to provide you with the main headings that you need for your membership form and you will see that how your membership form looks will depend on what your constitution says!
So, please have your constitution to hand as you read this.
The heading for your membership form will look like this:
Any Town CIO
A charitable incorporated organisation
Registered charity number 111111
Principal Office: 1The High Street, Any Town A1 0K
Who is your membership open to ?
(Check your constitution’s membership clause)
If your membership is open to individuals only then the first part of the membership form will provided details of the individual’s
If your membership is open to organisations and corporate bodies only then the first part of your membership form will provide details of the organisation’s
If your membership is open both to individuals and organisation you may wish to consider a separate membership form for individuals and a separate membership form for organisations.
Membership rights and responsibilities
How do people join the CIO? Check your constitution. If they join by applying to the trustees then put in this clause:
I (or we if an organisation) apply to become a member of Any Town CIO.
It is a statutory duty for each member of a CIO to exercise powers in a way that will further the purposes of the CIO. Therefore include the following clause:
I (or we if an organisation) understand it is the duty of Members to use their powers , in good faith, to further the purposes of the charity.
As a Member I (or we if an organisation) understand that I (or we if an organisation) will have the right to vote for Trustees at the AGM, and have other rights as specified in the Constitution , but that the day-to-day governance of the charity is in the hands of the Trustees.
The CIO is required to keep a Register of Members. Therefore, include this clause:
I (or we if an organisation) understand that my (or our if an organisation) details will be held on the charity’s Register of Members, and that my (or our if an organisation) name and address will be available to other members if they wish to contact me (or us if an organisation)
What happens if the CIO winds up? (closes)
Check your constitution.
If the constitution states that the members have no liability if the CIO is wound up then include this clause:
Should the CIO be wound up I (or we if an organisation) understand that I (or we if an organisation) have no liability to contribute to its assets and no personal responsibility for settling its debts and liabilities.
If the constitution states that each member is liable to contribute to the assets of the CIO by a stated amount then include this clause:
Should the CIO be wound up then I (or we if an organisation) promise to pay the sum of (whatever is stated in the Constitution) towards its debts.
How do members resign? Check your constitution. If they resign by sending notice of resignation to the Trustees then add the following clause:
I (or we if an organisation) understand that I (or we if an organisation) may resign at any time by sending a notice of resignation to the Trustees. If I (or we if an organisation) resign I (or we if an organisation) understand that the charity will continue to hold details of past members as required by law.
A membership form for a company limited by guarantee
If the company has both individuals and organisations as members we suggest you use a separate membership form for each.
Remember to put the company name and company number at the top of the membership form.
Individual membership form
Agreement for membership and guarantee:
I apply to become a member of the company, a company limited by guarantee and I agree to be bound by its memorandum and articles of association. I confirm that I support the company“s aims.
Should the company be wound up I promise to pay the sum of £1 toward its debts, if asked to do so and I understand that this liability will continue for one year after I cease to be a member of the company. I agree that the company may give out information about me to other members.
Date membership accepted
date membership ceased
Organisation membership form
Name of organisation
Agreement for membership and guarantee
We apply to become a member of the company, a company limited by guarantee and agree to be bound by its memorandum and articles. We confirm that our organisation supports the company“s aims and that our organisation has objects that are consistent with that of the company.
Should the company be wound up we promise to pay the sum of £1 toward its debts, if asked to do so and we understand that this liability will continue for one year after our organisation ceases to be a member of the company. we agree that the company may give out information about our organisation to other members.
Two authorised signatures
Date membership accepted
Date membership ceased
(PDF, 257 KB)Download