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
Click here if you want/have members Click here if you don’t want/have members