Club rules and constitution
- Attorney approved
- Plain English makes editing easy
- Guidance notes included
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About this unincorporated club rules and constitution template
Whether your club is new or has existed for years, you have a simple choice of how to structure it:
- Voluntary associations, established under common law using this template;
- Non-profit trusts, established under statutory law; and
- Non-profit companies incorporated for a public benefit objective or an objective relating to one or more cultural or social activities, or communal or group interests, established under statutory law.
This is a constitution or set of rules to regulate your management of any straight forward club, society, association or other non registered organisation.
You can use it to manage a charity - remember to register it with the Department of Social Development.
If your organisation will make a profit, that money will of course be subject to tax.
Use it for any group interest. Examples are:
- sports club
- collectors' club
- enthusiast club (like a bird-watching society)
- amateur dramatic or music societies
- an intellectual pursuit
- a political organisation
It is not suitable for a co-operative society.
When to put a constitution in place
It is usual to draw your constitution at the time when you set up your club or association. However, you can improve it any time.
These documents are suitable for a wide range of organizations. The members may share a common interest, activity or goal. You can also use one of them to form a community or voluntary group that you might wish to register as a charity in the future.
Our aim has been to set out a clear and logical structure by which to manage your organization, association, club or group. We have provided variations for a few specific types of organizations. Just choose the type which you think might come closest to your organization.
What these documents can do for you
A framework of rules
When people get together without forming a company, there is no set of rules which is automatically applied. To run the organization efficiently you therefore have to put a document together. Because there is no standard for this, you can say what you like. Agreeing terms with colleagues is often difficult. We provide that framework - flexibly so that you can select what you want.
Operating like a business
Many organizations have a specific purpose in the nature of a business. Examples are a theatre group or a sports club with employees. Those organizations cannot function without a constitution. In these documents we have borrowed familiar concepts and words from company law so that meetings are run smoothly and each person knows what he has agreed to do.
Presentation of your organization to third parties
Organizing events of any sort usually involves conducting business with sponsors and distributors, managing finances, and collaborating with external teams. A well-defined constitution shows a level of professionalism, which will be noticed by those other people and businesses.
Better personal legal protection
A company is of course a legal “person”, but a club or organization is not. So any contract relating to club activity must be made by individual members on behalf of the others. If anything goes wrong, those are the people who will be expected to pick up the pieces. A well-drawn constitution sets clear guidelines and boundaries for who can do what, so that you all know who is responsible and the extent of the liability of any one of you.
The law relating to club constitutions
A club or society has no legal identity of its own beyond the identity of the individual members. That means that the members are personally responsible for any liabilities (debts or obligations) that arise. The scope for disagreement is substantial, leaving one or more members liable for debts or negligence they thought would be covered by a larger group or by some other arrangement.
The management of personal liability of members is therefore one of the strongest reasons to have a formal constitution. If you, as a member, are liable for decisions made by another member, you’ll want to make sure that decisions are made with your full knowledge of any risk and with your agreement.
Template features and contents
Of course you want to be sure that the constitution covers everything you needs but does not go over the top in an unnecessarily long document.
This is a simple and general version in plain English.
The document includes the following sections:
- Main objective
- Subscriptions, resignation, suspension and expulsion
- Management of the association
- Powers of the committee - what are they and who decides
- Quorum at meetings
- Voting at meetings
- How and when the rules can and will be amended
- Provisions for dissolution
- Explanatory notes and guidance
This document was written by an attorney for Net Lawman. It complies with current South African law.
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