A short point by point run through of the Supporters Trust formation process to give you an idea of the requirements and important points of consideration.
If you are looking at forming a new Supporters Trust or converting an existing supporters group into a Community Benefit Society please contact your relevant FSA Network Manager.
- Working Party
- Why Chose a Community Benefit Society
- Open Meeting
- Rules & Registration
- Bank Account
- Website & Social Media
- Launch Party
- First AGM
Before you begin to tackle the process of setting up a Supporters Trust you need to form a working party of at least four or five individuals to help see the process through and spread the workload.
You have a number of important points to consider before you embark on this journey so an efficient and passionate working party in place to help you make these key decisions will be vital.
Why Chose a Community Benefit Society?
As the name suggests, a Community Benefit Society exists for the broader benefit of the community, in this case supporters of a football club.
CBS’s have community benefit written into their governing documents, operate on a democratic one-member-one-vote basis and can be an attractive prospect for grant funders who can be safe in the acknowledge they’re gifting support to an asset locked organisation.
Community benefit societies are incorporated cooperatives that conduct business for the benefit of their community.
Profits cannot be distributed among members, or external shareholders and are instead reinvested into the club or returned to the community.
A Community Benefit Society can also issue shares (known as community shares), but it is up to the board to decide whether the society can afford to pay interest, based on the club’s financial performance.
Organisations and enterprises can also invest and buy shares in the society but regardless of how much is invested; everyone is entitled to just one vote (ensuring everyone has a say in big decisions about the long-term interests of the society).
Offering limited liability for board members, the ability to issue shares, the opportunity for charitable status and an asset lock to prevent its value being distributed, a Community Benefit Society may be an ideal structure for your society.
Governing Document: Rules
Report to: The Financial Conduct Authority
Asset lock ✔
Limited liability ✔
Can issue shares ✔
Once you have met with the FSA Network Manager and decided that you want to go ahead and start the process of setting up a Supporters Trust, the next course of action to take is to hold a public open meeting for supporters to attend, hear about the proposals and vote via show of hands to go ahead with the registration.
Usually a public meeting would be attended by a speaker from the FSA and if possible, a representative of an already established local Supporters Trust who can discuss the work they do.
Some of the important points to cover include:
- Introduce concept of a Supporters Trust and potential benefits it may have
- Explain the work Community Benefit Societies and the FSA do
- Allow questions to be answered of the supporter base
- Invite local established Supporters Trust along to talk about their experiences
- Establish democratic mandate to proceed with Trust set up
- Introduce “working party” who will take the process forwards and form first board until AGM and elections have been held
Rules & Registration
Your FSA Network Manager will supply you with a template copy of the rules to be registered with the FCA along with a selection of side policies.
Your Network Manager will assist you with the registration process and populate the rules with the information specific to your society.
These are important roles which need to be appointed ASAP.
In the long term these roles must be performed by two different people. The legislation requires the Secretary to be responsible for all performance by the Society.
You can use the launch party to appeal for volunteers with the skills that you need behind the scenes.
As the elections and AGM will likely not be held for around a year these would be interim positions, as all volunteers at the Trust are until the first proper election.
Without a bank account you cannot accept new members. Bank account details need to be included on any membership application forms.
Once you have received confirmation from the FCA that your society has been registered, select an appropriate bank account and send off completed forms to the bank ASAP.
Bank accounts generally take a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks to open due to the requirements of the Money Laundering Act identity checks for signatories but can take up to 8 weeks.
Create and populate website with relevant content and launch social media channels on Twitter and Facebook.
Feel free to take any content direct from the FSA website.
The first members of the society are those in the working party who signed the rules. To take on further members you will need a membership form and a database to store membership information. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet depending on your society’s needs.
Your membership form will need to contain:
- Society’s registered name
- Society’s trading name
- The line “A Community Benefit Society under the Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014”
- Society’s registration number
- T’s & C’s of membership
- Bank account details
- Members name
- Members email
- Mobile number
- Members DOB
- “I agree to abide by the rules and policies of the society” next to members signature.
- Date of signing
Make the form simple and easy to complete and include electronic payment methods.
The best way to promote the launch of your Trust would be to hold an event where you can introduce the Trust’s aims and sign up members.
Make sure you find a suitable venue for launch party. The venue should be local to supporters, accessible with parking.
You need to start promoting your launch to ensure a good attendance. Social media is key for getting the word out. Encourage your followers to share and retweet to encourage as big an attendance as possible at the launch.
Try to forge links with like-minded groups and key figures in the community from the start. Reach out and invite community groups, politicians (MP’s and Council), council officers, local businesses, Co-operative and trade union people, club representatives, supporters of other clubs plus any other supporters clubs or supporter groups for the club.
You need to put in place a timetable for the event itself to ensure it stays on topic and on time. Decide how long the event will last.
Confirm the speaker’s content, do they know what they are going to discuss? Do they need any help with content?
If equipment like microphones and projectors are required, confirm these are available at the venue or arrange hire of required equipment.
The first AGM has to be within 18 months of the registration of the society and has to be within 6 months of the financial year-end.
At your first AGM all of the working party board should stand down. All retiring members are eligible for re-election.