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What do groups need money for? And how much do they need?

Groups do not necessarily need that much money to function effectively. Some groups have little need for a lot of money and can devote fund-raising activities to charities, sometimes in a way that enables them to boost their local profile in the community.

Some of the common things that a group might need to find money for include: the annual BHA group membership fee; venue hire; equipment hire; refreshments; guest-speakers' expenses (travel, accommodation, a meal); buying or producing leaflets and posters; website development, hosting and domain-names; and other on-line activity, such as MeetUp pages.

The group should clearly define how it is going to raise funds and what it is going to spend them on.

Raising Money

There are various methods for raising funds, some of the common ways of are given below. Which of the first two options you go for will affect the membership structure you have. See ‘Members and Supporters’ for details.

Donations at events

One of the most effective way to raise funds is to ask for voluntary donations from attendees at each event. There is usually a suggested minimum, such as £2. This is an open and flexible model, which allows people to feel free to turn up without having to commit to paying a fee or become a member. It can also raise more money than an annual membership fee, and provide a regular income throughout the year.

Annual membership fees or subscriptions

A traditional way to raise funds is to have a membership fee. It is a good way of raising money quickly and up-front, although it might put some people off. Groups who have fees usually set it reasonably low (e.g. £10 a year) and have a concessionary rate (e.g. £5).

Fund-raising activities

Groups can raise additional funds through fund-raising activities. These funds might be needed to supplement the group’s income, or for a special purpose, such as a enabling it to run a big campaign or buy a piece of equipment. You might also want to raise money for a cause you support, such as the Ugandan Humanist Schools Trust – or the BHA!

Donations and bequests

Groups sometimes receive money through donations and bequests. You can make donating easy by having a ‘donate’ button on your website and Facebook page. Make sure you give an explanation (on a separate page if necessary) of how people can donate (or leave a bequest), and give a broad idea of how your group’s funds are spent. Make sure you thank the people who donate money to your group. The President should write to anyone who gives a greater amount than usual. In the case of bequests, the President should write to the relative, solicitor or executor – whoever is most appropriate.

See ‘Activities and Events’[under development] for fund-raising ideas.

Looking after you money

The income and property of the Group should be devoted to the promotion of the Aims of the Group, and can be used on any legitimate activity. For example: the hiring of venues; printing of posters and flyers; buying a website domain name; and paying the group’s annual fee to the BHA.

The group’s officers may not receive payment for their services to the group.

It is good practice for a group to keep a record of its income and expenditure, something that is usually the responsibility of the group’s treasurer. The Treasurer will need to write a financial report for the annual general meeting.

The group should have its own bank-account: do not use personal ones. Each bank has slightly different rules, but they will probably require all the signatories to provide proof of identity and to sign various forms. It is a good idea to require two officers be signatories (e.g. President and Treasurer) - so that any cheques issued are signed by both of them. However, this can be awkward and some groups avoid this system. If you do not require two signatories, then you ought to make sure that there is some documentary evidence for each instance of spend (such as sending or copying an email to a fellow officer).

A group should state in its constitution what will happen to its remaining funds (after payment of liabilities) in the event of the group being dissolved. For example, some state that they should go to the BHA.

Affiliate and Partnership Agreement Requirements

The affiliate and partnership agreements require groups to:

  • Pay the relevant BHA Partnership or BHA Affiliation annual fee on time.
  • Maintain the financial viability of the group.
  • Decide group membership policy and set fees, taking into account any learning available from others.

Sara Passmore,
20 Jan 2014, 07:26