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Use this page to find out about who your charities members are and what decisions they make.
Not all charities will have constitutional members, and whether you do or don’t depends on your legal form. You can find out more about the different forms in our setting up section.
Charitable forms which always have constitutional members are:
The membership of these forms can be wide or narrow, so you may have only a few constitutional members (often called a ‘foundation’ model) or you may have many constitutional members (often called an ‘association’ model).
Some charities may also have people they think of as members, but who aren’t constitutional members in a legal sense. It is important to know the difference between people who are involved and participate in your services and activities, and your legally defined constitutional members.
In governance terms, constitutional members have a specific role. This role is set out in the organisation’s governing document, which will explain:
Constitutional members also have some decision-making rights and responsibilities.
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As with other aspects of membership, the decisions that constitutional members can make will be set out in the governing document.
In general, constitutional members will have the power to:
Often, the trustee board will enable constitutional members to make any decisions at a general meeting of members. If enough constitutional members ask the trustees to call a general meeting, there is usually a requirement for a meeting to be called.
Find out more in our running good meetings guidance.
Last reviewed: 29 April 2022Help us improve this content
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