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Running your local deaf children's society

Photo: Get information and resources to run your local deaf children's society

Need help with the day-to-day running of your local deaf children's society? 

Maybe you have to register as a charity or are wondering how to structure your next annual general meeting. Whether you want to read through your constitution or get tips from other local deaf children's societies, we have a range of resources that can help you with the day-to-day running of your group.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Get in touch.

Tips for long-term sustainability and effectiveness

Invest time in planning

  • Know where you are going! Be clear about your aims and your mission.
  • Make short term and long term goals which are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).
  • Be self-aware and mindful of your strengths and weakness.

Your committee

  • Make use of your governing documents (your constitution and affiliation agreement with us) as well as the good committee guides.
  • Have at least three active committee members.
  • Prevent committee members from burning out by dividing workload up fairly and encouraging new committee members to join.
  • Make sure you know who is responsible for what.

Remember that we are here to help!

  • Keep in contact with the Local Groups team and don’t be afraid to get in touch if you have any queries.
  • There are lots of resources designed to help you run a local group – make sure you use them!

Network with others

  • Engage with other local and national organisations such as your local volunteer centre.
  • Work alongside statutory services including your local Children's Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG.)
  • Buddy up with other local deaf children's societies to make the most of your resources and share best practice with one another.

Engage with and invest time in your members

  • Remember to reach out to new families to avoid your membership decreasing.
    Make the most of the young people in your group by putting on activities which appeal to them and try and get them involved.
  • Remember that the committee doesn’t have to do everything, it’s OK to have volunteers!
  • Hold an annual general meeting to keep members in the loop with key updates and to ensure you are refreshing your committee annually.

Fundraising

  • Make fundraising a priority to help ensure that you won’t run out of funds.
  • Don’t forget to apply for our grants and keep your eye out for other local funding streams. Look under Money matters for more information.
Registering as a charity

What is a charity?

Charities exist to create a better society. As an organisation set up to help those in need, a charity will have defined ‘purposes’, all of which will be charitable. These purposes will outline what the charity aims to achieve from the work that it does. Charities also need to be set up for public benefit and all charities must operate within the constraints of charity law.

What are the advantages of becoming a registered charity? 

  • People are more likely to offer time, energy or money to a registered charity.
  • Charities receive a range of tax benefits.
  • You may be able to claim a reduction in business rates for any premises the charity occupies.
  • You may be able to raise funds more easily from the public, grant-making trusts and local government.

What are the requirements to become a registered charity?

  • You must have a governing document (constitution) and operate within the limits of this document.
  • The charity must not be set up to benefit a specific named individual or individuals.
  • You must have an annual income of over £5,000 (applicable to England and Wales)
  • Registered charities in England and Wales are required to update the Charity Commission (CC) on their income annually. (You will receive an annual report form from the CC for this).
  • All of the charity's aims are for public benefit.
  • All purposes of your organisation must be charitable.
  • The charity should have trustees.

What to consider before becoming a registered charity

  • What will you call your charity?
  • How will you raise the money you will need to run your charity and achieve your aims?
  • Do you need to work alone or is there another charity you could join or work with?
  • How will you recruit trustees?

Trustees

Charity trustees are responsible for managing the charity and controlling the administration side of things. Traditionally trustees would be members of the committee, often filling the roles of committee chair, secretary and treasurer. Groups need to be confident that the trustees understand what is expected of them.

Governing documents

One of the requirements to become a registered charity is to possess a governing document. We provide local deaf children's societies with a standard constitution which is an approved governing document. This means that the charity commission have seen and approved the constitution that we offer local deaf children's societies.

If you do not wish to use our model constitution, you can draft your own. This will need to be approved by us and the Charity Commission.

Applying for registered charity status

The process of applying for registered charity status differs depending on which country your charity is based in. Use the information below to find the process specific to your country.

England and Wales

If you are registering a charity based within England and Wales, you will need to do so with the Charity Commission. You can register on their website and complete an online application form or give them a call on 0845 300 0218. You will need a copy of your local group’s constitution and also proof that you have an income of over £5,000.

The Charity Commission aim to reach decisions on all applications within 40 days. If your governing document meets the requirements and the Charity Commission agree your organisation is charitable in law, the details of your charity will be entered into the register of charities and you will receive notification of your registered charity number.

Scotland

To become a registered charity in Scotland, you must apply to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) for charitable status. Scottish groups will need:

  • a completed Charitable Status application form
  • a completed Charity Trustee declaration form
  • a copy of the local group’s constitution
  • a recent statement of accounts
  • a document detailing your group’s current or intended activities.

OSCR aims to process applications for charitable status within three months of receiving the information. If successful, the OSCR will send you a notice advising your organisation is recognised as a Scottish charity, give your organisation a charity number (SCO******) and enter your organisation onto the Scottish Charity Register.

Northern Ireland

Charities based in Northern Ireland do not need to and indeed cannot register. The only formality you need go through is to apply to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for charitable status for tax purposes. This is currently being reviewed.

Duty of care and criminal record checks

All charity trustees have a duty of care, and a duty to act solely in the interests of the charity. Criminal record checks are currently the best way for trustees to check whether a fellow trustee is disqualified from working with children and vulnerable adults. For this reason, the Charity Commission's policy is that trustees must obtain a criminal record check when there is a legal requirement to do so.

Helpful hints

  • We provide criminal record checks to local group committee members free of charge.
  • Visit our Safeguarding page or contact us at localgroups@ndcs.org.uk.
  • When applying for charity status, you may need to include the NDCS registered charity numbers - these are: (1016532) for England and Wales and (SC040779) in Scotland.
Running an annual general meeting (AGM)

Why should our group hold an AGM?

Holding an AGM allows a group committee to keep your members up to date on activities, review your past year, and look to what the group has in store for the future. The meeting provides a place to elect and re-elect committee members, and is also the perfect opportunity for members to put forward their own ideas to the group organisers. Although the title ‘Annual General Meeting’ suggests a formal meeting, we recommend keeping the event as relaxed as possible.

Telling people about your AGM

Notice of an AGM should be given by post to all local group members. Your constitution may state the number of days notice you should give. This is usually around 21 days.

Important information to include when giving notice is:

  • When and where the AGM will take place
  • How long the meeting will last
  • What will be discussed and decisions that need to be made on the day
  • Who to contact if people would like to add to the agenda

What happens at an AGM?

Normally the annual general meeting (AGM) will be conducted by the chair of the group. There are no formal rules as to what should happen at an AGM, though generally some, or all, of the following will take place:

  • Welcome and apologies for absentees.
  • Review and agreement of the previous AGM minutes.
  • A report from the chair on what the group has achieved over the year and the future aims and objectives of the group.
  • A report from the treasurer, giving details of the group’s funding and spending over the year.
  • The election or re-election of committee members.
  • Questions/discussion points/motions raised by members.

Things to think about on the day of the meeting

  • Setting the room up: often the group committee will sit at the head of the room, facing the members. This is a good way of showing who is on the committee, and who is a general member.

  • Clearly signposting where the meeting is being held: making members arrival as easy as possible will set the tone for a relaxed atmosphere during the meeting. Think about putting up posters to direct people to the room.

  • Information: make sure you have printed copies of the agenda and any other information (such as a printed copy of the chairs report or your most recent accounts) available to all attendees.

  • Writing minutes: you will need to record the minutes of the meeting. The most important detail will be the information about who resigns, who was re-elected, and who was elected for the first time.

Electing a new committee

  • Nomination; Everyone who stands for election should be nominated (by themselves or another member) and seconded. Ideally, nominations should be made before the meeting takes place so that they can be listed on the agenda given out at the beginning of the meeting.

  • Voting; It is usual to vote by a show of hands. If a decision is not immediately clear from a general showing of hands, then you can count each vote individually. You may opt for a private ballot: this allows people to vote confidentially. If the vote is tied, the group chair should have the second and deciding vote as a last resort.

  • Writing a summary of the election process within the meeting minutes is very important.

How can you get people to attend your AGM?

Lots of groups have told us they find it difficult to fill seats at their AGM. Here are some suggestions that might help you overcome this:

  • Try combining the formal side of the AGM with a popular social event.
  • Have a speaker on a burning issue.
  • Give members plenty of notice and send reminders.
  • Emphasise to members that this is their chance to say what their family wants from the group.
  • Keep the business brief and avoid running over time.
  • Invite local professionals and advertise their attendance.
  • Avoid hosting the event in a committee member's house, ensure the venue is accessible for all your members.
  • Try to host the event at a time most convenient to your members.

Tips from other groups

  • South Hampshire Deaf Children's Society received back only a small number of replies for the AGM and had to cancel the entertainer they had booked for the children. So they changed the venue to Whiteley’s shopping centre, let parents know the meeting would only last 30 minutes, and tempted them with cakes and drinks – it worked!

  • Brighton and Hove Deaf Children's Society held their AGM at Fishers Farm. After the meeting all deaf children could use the farm for free and they subsidised the entrance fee for other family members to £5 (from £10) per head. They didn’t offer this reduced charge to those that arrived after the meeting had started, though!

  • Ipswich Deaf Children's Society usually combine their AGM with another event. In the past they have had speakers, created a display of the latest technology, and one year they combined it with an awards ceremony for the children in the group. This was really good for encouraging new families to come along, especially those with younger children. They always keep the business short, and one way to help this is to distribute the minutes from the last year’s meeting beforehand so there is no need to read them through on the night.