Group Development

When it comes to setting up and developing your community group, you and your group members will know what suits your particular needs and local context best, however the following guidance may be useful to consider.

Group Governance

It is considered good practice for community groups to write and agree upon a constitution. It is useful in providing a base for any future formalisation – e.g. should you seek to obtain funds in the future.  A constitution is recommended for good governance, however your group members will know when the time is right to work towards producing one.

The first step towards writing a constitution is usually to establish your group’s mission statement, core aims, and core leadership roles.  See the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) for information on how to develop a constitution as well as basic draft constitution templates, which you may want to adapt for your group.

The unincorporated model is sometimes attractive to groups starting off as it is a very simple form of structure but provides a basic starting point for building your mandate.  It doesn’t offer any liability for its members.

You may also want to consider the different forms that your group could take. If you are interested in providing limited liability for members, perhaps you want to be incorporated from the beginning. You might then want to consider becoming a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).


Securing funding to enable your group to achieve its ambitions can at times feel like an up-hill struggle. There is support out there to tap into. Here are some top tips and useful sites/organisations to have on your radar:

Foundation Scotland is the main hub of Scottish philanthropy. They have a selection of excellent resources and are a charity set up to strengthen local communities in Scotland via funding.

UK Fundraising is a UK-wide website for fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grantmakers in the UK who fund the charitable work of organisations that are building an inclusive, creative and sustainable society. They have an environmental funding programme.

John Ellerman Foundation is an independent grantmaking foundation, which supports charities that make a practical difference to people, society and the natural world and have an environmental funding programme.

Garfield Weston Foundation is a charitable grant-making foundation, which supports a wide range of causes across the UK with an environmental funding programme.

National Lottery Community Fund is responsible for distributing 40% of all funds raised for good causes by the National Lottery. They give grants from £300 to more than £500,000 to community and voluntary groups and charities.

Sea Changers offer small grants of typically £500 (and sometime up to £1000) to community groups.

The following presentation was produced by Hannah Braitwaite, Head of Trusts and Foundations at Fauna & Flora International, for the Coastal Communities Workshop (Gartmore 2) in May 2018. Hit play to watch the video.

Partnerships and links

The way in which organisations work together is an important but often overlooked part of designing and delivering projects. However, by considering these issues at an early stage many of the challenges to joint working can be avoided or overcome more easily and project delivery will be more effective.

The following toolkits help groups to identify and categorise stakeholders according to their relationship with the issue or activity and determine what this means in terms of whether/how to work with them; and to identify perceptions of key organisations and individuals inside and outside a community, their importance, relationships, and decision making roles.

Wider Community Support Networks in Scotland

Scotland is rich in community action and there are numerous support networks you and your groups can tap into, such as:

The Scottish Community Alliance

The Scottish Community Development Centre

The Development Trusts Association Scotland

Particularly now with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, there are increasing opportunities to rewrite the ways in which communities are involved in public decision-making in Scotland.  This article from SCDC explains more about the act.

If you would like further advice and support with any element of establishing and developing your community group then please contact us.

Volunteer Management

Volunteers are a vital resource to many community groups and charitable organisations.  Many of the Coastal Communities Network groups rely on input from volunteers, whether this is seasonal support with activities, long-term help with organisational running, or voluntary trustees and board members.

If you are looking for help with managing volunteers, you may find the template resource pack below useful.  This document includes an example volunteer policy and handbook, alongside template registration form, induction checklist and expenses form.  This can be downloaded and modified for the specific needs of your group.