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Committee Run Groups


Jeany
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Hello, hoping some of you lovely people may have some advice or experience.

We are a committee run pre-school, as far as we can see there are no benefits for us to have charitable status. Quite the contrary in fact, getting committees together is a nightmare and quite frankly for the increasing work load and leagsl responsibilities of committees I am not surprised. We have heard about Community interest companies and feel this is a far better way for pre-schools like ours to operate. Staff can be directors alongside a couple of devoted volunteers. Our stumbling block is, due to being a very busy setting we have managed to bank a fair bit of cash and as we understand it we would have to basically hand this money to another charity. Our intention wouls still be to work for the community. Does anyone know if there is anyway around this.

Has anybody stopped trading as a charity and reopened?

Any advice or experiences would be great.

 

TIA:-)

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Hi Jeany, welcome to the Forum.

 

I'd be interested to know this too as I'm in the same position. I seem to have lost all my willing volunteers for the Committee - they've run off screaming with their hands in the air after seeing the EY2 forms!!

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I've often thought this makes a lot of sense.

 

I spoke to our LEA business person today and said what LEAs really need to do is have a 'manager' who runs several voluntary/charity preschools and gets paid a salary for it. This person could make sure essential tasks are done and delegate jobs out to parents and volunteers.

 

This is essentially what I do as chair. Any privately run setting would have a manager in addition to a leader, or at the very least someone who was paid to do both jobs. (And probablby an accountant as well!)

Edited by Guest
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It definitly needs a shake up. After alomost closing last year due to lack of committee members there has to be an alternative. The CIC route is something I kind of looked at but we need a much simpler way of changing from needing a committee.

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Could you not spend the funds on resources, improving outdoor space or refurblishment etc? Would benefit the setting?

 

Not sure but you need to have enough funds to cover staff wages, bills, rent etc for x amount of weeks/month if setting was to close, could it not go into a pot for that? Sorry don't really know facts just suggestions here

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it is recommended that you now have enough funds to keep you going...you are certainly allowed to 'keep back' a years income to cover in times of difficulty. You are also able to open another account for 'special projects' ..though some idea of what this project should be would be needed(reburb/new play area etc etc) this is the set up for charities but i think it is the same for community enterprise. We became a charity as we got a grant for doing so . It has helped now we are thinking of moving because most funders require me to either be a reg. charity or a social enterprise group...also there has been a recent thread suggesting claming gift aid on certain income so that might be worth it. The charities paperwork is not really over and above what you have to do for the accountant anyway and it does afford you some benefits

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to dissolve the preschool and the charity you have to do whatever your constitution says...

 

this is for all moneys, equipment, goods.. anything that belongs to the setting...

 

sometimes you can get an independent evaluation of the cost of the equipment etc and you would then have to pay this to 'buy' it , the money would then be used as per constitution..

 

we looked into it and while paying redundancy to all staff used some of the money the actual cost of the rest was too much to lose so gave up..

 

along with all the Ofsted paperwork of closing one setting and reopening as another .. we got so bogged down by it all.

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We also wanted to do this for the same reasons and faced the same problems - we have managed to spend our money by purchasing are own building - as a member of the PLSA they wanted our surplus funds!! When they are a multi million pound 'charity' it seemed rather unfair. They also could not offer any suitable advice on how to disolve the committee - we are now considering changing our constitution so we have 3 'trustees' so we don't need a committee but it has to be passed by the Charities Commission first and to be honest it seems a lot of hassle for not a lot of gain. (sorry not a very positive post)

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Thanks for all replies.

 

I have made an appointment with the LEA buisness advisor to see if she has any ideas.

We have spoke today about spending some of our cash on maintaining the building(heating system decorating etc) this would hopefully work because we lease the building but are responsible for maintaining it. When lease is up for renewal if charity has closed hopefully the lease could transfer.

 

2 charity run settings have closed in our town in the last 12 months. I honestly don't see that committee run settings are a viable option for much longer. It is a huge responsibility for volunteers to take on.

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Could I ask does anyone have any experience of closing a PLA run setting down and sort of, kind of forgetting to tell them until the resources had been disposed of?

 

Not wanting to do anything illegal but we know of plenty of local groups who could make good use of our equipment should the worst ever happen and we are all unhappy about the idea of giving everything to the PLA, who other than allowing us to buy record books and employee handbooks at slightly reduced prices haven't really done much for us since about 1991, which is about the time we paid them a nice sum of money to be reaccredited, only for them to advise us to wait until we had a stable staff team for 18 months or so. When that day finally came they had no record of our reaccreditation fee being paid! We get no support other than a slightly cheaper insurance rate nowadays. Sorry rant over!

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You will only pay any monies left ovee tot the PSLA if your constitution says so. We are a PSLA reg charity, committee run, but under dissolution our constitution states

 

If members decide to terminate the existence of the Pre-School any funds or equipment remaining after all the debts have been paid, shall be handed to the Pre-School Learning Alliance OR any similar charity concerned with the education of pre-school children in the area of the Pre-School.

 

As far as I am concerned we dont have to hand anything over to them as the OR is th ekey word here. However we do not have a PSLA constitution.

Some years ago (nothing to do with this issue) we wanted to change part of ours and did so, as per our constitution states, sent it off to the CC and that was that! Why dont you change the wording on yours get it passed and then do whatever. I'm not saying you could change it to 'do whatever we want with the money' but maybe something similar to ours? I know it can be (and indeed is) a pain but you can see why we had to have these rules and regs over the money. Otherwise whats to stop some unscrupulous person coming along dissolving the charity /group and just taking over in their name? Which is what I think has happened with charities in the past.(not that I am insinuating that is what you are thinking :o) Having said that I do agree committee run groups are really a thing of the past, great 10/15 years ago when most families had one parent not working and more time to devote to it all but now to expect someone who has a full time job to take on the role of trustee and really do it by the book and properly is ridiculous, to say nothing of the rules and regs that have now come into force over the years. I really dont know what the alternative is though.

Edited by lynned55
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Some years ago (nothing to do with this issue) we wanted to change part of ours and did so, as per our constitution states, sent it off to the CC and that was that! Why dont you change the wording on yours get it passed and then do whatever.

 

Thanks for this. I do agree with you about there needing to be some rules. I was under the impression that rewriting our constitution was a big job which is why I was so annoyed - felt like our hands were tied. I will put it to the committee about doing that. Does it need to be at an AGM or can it be in a general or extraordinary meeting do you know? Oh and is there a charge or is it more a case of sending to CC and waiting for them to rubberstamp?

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I wish!

 

If you're not getting paid to do your job then it is not privately run, really is it? It's more of a not for profit business kindly held together by the goodwill of the employees.

 

What I meant was, in our setting the committee do all of this stuff (cashflow, accounts, contracts, etc. etc.) and are paid no salary at all.

 

I appreciate that in some private settings the leader probably takes on a manager role but that is not quite the same thing as doing it for free.

 

I certainly feel we would be justified in farming out some of the technical functions and getting them done by people who are paid a living wage.

Edited by Guest
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Thanks for this. I do agree with you about there needing to be some rules. I was under the impression that rewriting our constitution was a big job which is why I was so annoyed - felt like our hands were tied. I will put it to the committee about doing that. Does it need to be at an AGM or can it be in a general or extraordinary meeting do you know? Oh and is there a charge or is it more a case of sending to CC and waiting for them to rubberstamp?

 

Holly this is what ours says abput changes to our constitution, yours however could be different:

 

11. CHANGES

This constitution may be altered only if:

(a) Two thirds of the members present at a General Meeting vote in favour of changing it.

 

By General Meeting I think it means Annual or Extraordinary. But if it is the same it is easy to call an extraordinary one, just look on your constitution again. I'm sure it didn't cost us anything, from what I can remember we jsut sent it off to them with a copy of the minutes of the meeting (where the changes and voting of them had been minuted ) and the new constitution. The worst thing for us was trying to get enough people together to form a quorum. When our constitution was originally typed it stated that we needed something like 2/3 of members of the group (i.e parents ) to form a quorum for an EGM. which was silly, impractical and I'm sure a typo. I cant remember the exact details but do remember trying to hold 3/4 meetings until we managed to get enough parents in attendance. Ended up holding onto their children at the end of a session one day to sort it!! As I say it was a long time ago and the details are now not very clear but I dont remember it being complicated. Although matters could have changed over the years.

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As my son would say doh! Didn't think to look on actual constitution to see how to change it! Thanks again for this. Just off to meeting now but I'll look into it more when I have a few minutes.

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Any privately run setting would have a manager in addition to a leader, or at the very least someone who was paid to do both jobs.
If you're not getting paid to do your job then it is not privately run, really is it? It's more of a not for profit business kindly held together by the goodwill of the employees.

Sorry SuzieC8, I was trying to show my amusement at the idea that any privately sun setting would have the benefit of a manager and leader, or that the one person doing that job would be being paid to do both jobs. The harsh reality is that many owner/managers are indeed doing both jobs, but are either being paid very little or are drawing no salary at all.

 

For all the problems people report with working in committee run groups, and the frustrations committee chairs such as yourself comment on here, I am sometimes very envious of those managers who have a committee member to deal with the invoicing or budgeting or recruitment or whatever. As it is, it is down to me and me alone. I could delegate more, but I wouldn't be able to pay anyone to do the extra work that would entail and I don't believe that staff should be expected to work extra hours for nothing. For whatever reason, committee members volunteer their time for as long as they feel able and in this way they provide the goodwill that keeps their group afloat and enables it to continue to offer a service to children and their families.

 

Fortunately the only goodwill keeping my group afloat at the moment is mine, and obviously the end is in sight now. However when I close, the responsibility for any debts will be mine and mine alone.

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That's a shame Maz, I'm not sure there's an answer but then again I wouldn't want to see the entire sector get privatised. I have nothing against privately run settings, it's just that the whole parents in it together thing is I think actually a positive as well as a negative for us committee run crazies.

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From a crazy I have to say I agree suzie. Although getting them on board is a pain the feedback and ideas that our parents have bought to meetings is wonderful. I do my best but they are still in small child thinking mode and understand better than I do about parents, from how often they prefer to be invoiced to how much to charge for parties. Things I am way out of date with. I see a time looming when I can pass over the reins :o

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I have my eye on an incoming parent, Rea, line 'em up and sign 'em up, that's my theory.

 

I've been looking around for someone who is intelligent and assertive and not afraid to delegate, and think I have found someone! That's my definition of a good chair, although maybe I shouldn't be talking about us like that!?

 

:o

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