Introduction to organisational structures

Most community groups start with a person or a number of people informally providing a service or working on a specific project. From there, a group and its activities may grow to a point where it needs to be organised on a more formal basis. There are many options available, from informal unincorporated structures to common formal structures, such as incorporated societies and charitable trusts.

This section provides some basic guidance and tips on a range of topics related to organisational structures for community groups. It looks at everything from unincorporated groups to incorporated societies and charitable trust boards, as well as the less common formal structures, such as companies and Māori land trusts. Charities Services and related topics are discussed as well as how to dissolve your organisation and liquidation.

Organisational structure resources

Words used

There is a lot of terminology and jargon for describing the different ways community groups can organise themselves and it can get confusing. Throughout this section the terms organisational structure and legal form are used to refer to unincorporated groups as well as more formal structures such as incorporated societies, charitable trusts etc. The term entity for example legal entity is also used.

Organisations that are registered under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 may be referred to as either registered or incorporated charitable trusts or societies. Here, the term registered is generally used.

Next page: Initial considerations for organisational structures

Contents of the Community Resource Kit