Getting Organised: A Whistlestop Tour of Democratic Legal & Governance Models

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The ‘New Economy’ covers a wide range of organisational forms and legal structures, from Companies Limited by Guarantee to Community Benefit Societies – it's not surprising that activists and communities can find the choice of legal structure a minefield. 

Do we need an asset lock? What will we do with our profits?  How will we raise money to start our co-operative or buy an asset? How can we organise in a way that is effective yet still allows for meaningful participation and democratic control by our stakeholders?  

This workshop takes you through the basics, introducing the legal structures that can help you fulfill your mission, and the governance models that can ensure you do it in a way that provides a voice for the people who really matter.

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  • A tour of the range of legal structures and governance options available to new economy organisations
  • Examples of why organisations choose a particular legal form or governance approach
  • The range of legal forms used by the new economy
  • The characteristics and features available from legal forms to support democracy and common ownership
  • The governance options available to new economy organisations 
  • The benefits of emerging approaches to governance that can improve transparency and participation in democracy
  • A knowledge of the range of legal forms used in an exciting and expanding sector
  • An understanding of the factors affecting each legal form
  • An understanding of the difference between legal form and organisational type
  • An understanding of the different ways that organisations can organise themselves internally to make decisions and coordinate their activity – their governance
  • An understanding of what makes for “good governance”
  • An understanding of how these models apply to charities
  • Anyone involved in an organisation or enterprise that forms or intends to form a part of the new economy. This will better allow you to better understand your existing or potential structure and governance.
  • Anyone advising, funding or otherwise supporting such an organisation or enterprise to improve the quality of their support.

Nathan Brown and Mark Simmonds of Co-op Culture have many years experience delivering development support to a vast variety of co-operatives and community enterprises. In their experience, one of the things that groups often get stuck on is how to choose from the vast array of possible UK legal forms – the hardware - and then how do they then organise themselves within that structure, which you might think of as their software.

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