|Who controls it?||Management Committee|
|What is the governing document?||Constitution|
|Who is the regulator?||Charity Commission|
|Does it have limited liability?||No|
|What sources of finance are available?||Grants, donations, membership fees|
|Is charitable status available?||Yes (if purposes are solely charitable)|
An unincorporated association is a membership organisation. It can be whatever its members want it to be, and carry out whatever activity the members choose. It is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way for a group to set itself up. It is ideal for many small groups, especially those without staff or premises. A large number of groups fall into this category (sometimes without knowing it). To set up an unincorporated association, your group simply needs to draw up a constitution, setting out the rules under which it will be run.
An unincorporated association can be a charity, but it does not have to be. Many unincorporated associations primarily benefit their own members, and are therefore not considered to be charitable and are not regulated by charity law. For an unincorporated organisation to be a charity it must have charitable aims and be run for the public benefit. If your group is not charitable you do not need to register with or report to anyone. If your group is charitable, you will need to register with the Charity Commission if your annual income is over £5,000 per year.
An unincorporated association is not incorporated, so it cannot enter into contracts or own property in its own right.
To set up an unincorporated association, all you need to do is write and agree a constitution in your group. If you do not plan to become a charity, your constitution should lay out whatever aims you want for your group. If you wish to be a charity, it is best to base your constitution on the model constitution on the Charity Commission website.