A decision around membership relates to who will have ultimate decision making powers within your organisation. The majority of third sector organisations in Scotland are membership organisations, with a body of members who have the power to shape the constitution, elect a Board (who control the activities and finances of the organisation) and dissolve a charity where necessary.
If you do decide to go for a membership organisation, the following questions are worth considering:
- Who will be invited to be members? People in a certain geography? People of a certain age? People with a certain interest? Etc.
- Will your members have to pay a fee to join?
- What will the benefits of membership be?
- How will new members join and how long will membership last?
- How and why will you cancel membership?
- Will employees be eligible for membership? If so, will any restrictions be placed on them?
- Will membership be open to individuals, organisations or both?
- Will it be possible to refuse membership?
- If a member stops being eligible, will their membership cease immediately?
Potential legal structures if you opt for membership:
- a voluntary association
- a Company Limited by Guarantee
- a Company Limited by Shares
- a BenCom
- a Co-operative
- a Community Interest Company
- Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)
Legal structures if you don’t opt for membership:
- a single tier SCIO
- a trust