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Small Groups Development


Islington Voluntary Action Council
322 Upper Street, London N1 2XQ
Tel: 020 7226 4862
Fax: 020 7359 7442
Email: information@ivac.org.uk


IVAC provides a development service for all Small Voluntary Groups in Islington. From advising you on how to start up an organisation to guiding you through the process of winding up and every aspect in between, IVAC is here to help.

What is a Small Group? What makes it voluntary?

IVAC defines a small group as any organisation with three or less full time staff, or part time equivalents. These groups must also fit the term “voluntary organisation” or “charity”. For a fuller explanation of these different terms, as well as the many other titles and names that are used to describe voluntary organisations, please see our information pack “What’s in a name”.

We want to set up an organisation. How can IVAC help us?

Anybody, or group of people, can make an appointment to come to IVAC and talk to myself about setting up a voluntary organisation.
At this meeting, we will talk about the group, what its aims will be, what services it will provide and who will benefit from the work of the group. We will also talk about the support that IVAC can provide for you.
Usually I will talk you through IVAC’s “Getting Started Pack”. This pack is intended for those who want to, or who have recently started a voluntary organisation. It recognises that many people who set up voluntary groups do not have a great deal of experience in running organisations, and may be unaware of the different issues involved. It is designed as a workbook and guide that can referred to throughout your first year and beyond. It asks you the questions about the issues you need to consider when setting up such as; writing a constitution, setting an aim, becoming a charity and starting fundraising as well as many others.

We have also produced a version aimed specifically at Supplementary and Mother-Tongue Schools. Both of these can be downloaded from this site.

We are an established group. How can IVAC help us?

Our development work doesn’t end when a group has set up. Providing your group works in Islington you can draw upon IVAC’s experience in any area of running your organisation.

Some of the most common questions we receive are on the following topics –

Employment Law – how to employ staff, who to write contracts, how to discipline staff, what policies and procedures are needed, what is the tax situation with staff and how does a redundancy process work.

Becoming a company – Once an organisation has been in existence for some time it may be beneficial for it to become a company. We can explain what this entails and what responsibilities it places on you as well as help you through the process.

Fundraising – See our Fundraising page.

Planning – Good planning is essential to the success of any organisation and we can help you through the steps involved in the planning process and putting it all into operation.

Legal Requirements and Policies – Charities and voluntary organisations are subject to the law as any other group. Keeping up-to-date with all the changes in legislation and policy can be costly in terms of time, money and energy. IVAC therefore does this on your behalf. If you want to know what the legal requirements on your organisation are, or what has changed then we can tell you and more importantly help you understand what all that legal terminology means, whether its about Data Protection or Child Protection, Quality Marks or Equal Opportunities, we can help.

Health Check – IVAC provides a Health Check for voluntary organisations that have been in operation for at least two years. The Health Check is a comprehensive overview of your organisation carried out by our staff through interview with the committee and senior staff, as well as considering written information such as the accounts, governing document and other relevant documents. The end result is a short report, assessing the organisation by commenting on the strengths and weaknesses we identify. The report will also suggest possible action you can take to develop those strengths and remove your weaknesses. The report has many uses, such as an internal evaluation, as part of a business plan or as evidence for a fundraising application.

Training – Small Groups Development Training is mostly provided through the Resource Worker Work but occasionally we will offer free training on issues we believe of strong importance to groups. This training will be advertised through ICN, IVAC-news and by direct letter to small groups in our database.

We have more than three staff but all this applies to us as well! What can we do?

IVAC recognises that the cost of obtaining this support can be crippling even for larger organisations. We are therefore very happy to help those larger groups who could clearly benefit from our support and who carry out significant part of their work in Islington, providing that this help does not detract from the support we give to Small Groups.

I want to find out more

Please feel free to contact me, Niall Sweby either by phone (020 7226 4862 ex 226) or e-mail niallsweby@ivac.org.uk. Please note that IVAC does not run drop-in advice surgeries. If you do call in without an appointment I will be happy to schedule one, but it is extremely unlikely that I will be able to see you at that particular moment.

There are also many websites you can visit to find out further information in your own time. A list of the key ones are:

Charity Commission Home Page

Companies House - Home Page

NCVO - voice of the voluntary sector

Centre for Civil Society

Welcome...Information Commissioner/data protection/freedom of Information

Inland Revenue: Gateway for Charities and charitable giving

Resources for the Voluntary Sector

ICOF - Industrial Common Ownership Finance Ltd - ICOM

Social Enterprise London

The Criminal Records Bureau


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