If you are thinking about setting up a local group, or you are looking to reinstate an older group, this guide is here to encourage you to do so and to make it easy. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Starting a group is quite simple, just follow the steps below. If you have any questions or concerns at any stage, please feel free to contact the BHA at:

The first things to consider are where the group will be based and what it will be called.

  • Check that there is not already a group in the area - Have a look at the Local Groups Map on the BHA Website to see if there is a local Partner or Affiliate Group in the area.  
  • Research the local area- Make sure the area you would like to meet in has reliable and varied transport options, and is in or near a reasonably-sized population centre.
    • You can even ask the BHA to check to how many members they have in the area by emailing
If you have done the above and still wish to set up a group, you should read through the rest of this guide as well as the other guides on the 'Setting a Group up' section of this Hub.

Step 2 - Contact the BHA

Please contact and explain that you are considering setting a group up. Staff at the BHA can help you with the next steps and provide support.  

Step 3 - Name your group

Per the Partnership Agreement, the standard structure for names of local groups is "Location" Humanists. The 'Location' can be a town (such as 'Plymouth Humanists'), county or area (such as 'Essex Humanists' 'West Wales Humanists') or a combination of the two (such as 'Hull and East Riding Humanists'). The naming convention is in line with the international Humanist movement. Try to keep you name short, concise, and memorable.

Step 4 - Create a Group e-mail account

Creating a dedicated e-mail account for the group is important because:

  • It means the group’s electronic correspondence is not connected to the personal account of any one individual.  When the person responsible for the account moves on, their successor can take it over easily.
  • It is better as a means for people contacting the group, as the address stays the same over time and does not have to change every time the officers change.

A BHA email account

If you are a new Partner Group, the BHA can provide you with an email address which can be accessed through gmailIt will follow the '' format ( for example).  More information about email accounts can be found on the Hub IT Guide and you can contact the Group, Sections, and Membership Coordinator on

Other email accounts

There are other free ways of setting up an email account.  Two of the most popular providers are Google Mail and Hotmail, all you have to do is click on the links and follow the instructions.  Remember to choose a logical name: if your group is called Cardiff Humanists, your email should be something like  

If you are particularly technologically advanced you might want to set up dedicated domains so that they can have things like '' or '' - but this is beyond the scope of this guidance. 

Step 5 - Create a ‘web presence’ 

Having a ‘web presence’ is crucial because it will be the main way that people find out about your group and its activities. It can also be used for other important functions, such as:

  • Enabling people to register as a member or supporter of your group;
  • Enabling people to sign-up for updates of the group’s events and activities
  • Providing a way for people to contact the group, and for the group to contact its members. 
Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup all provide free accounts and are very useful for local groups wishing to promote themselves.  Facebook and Meetup are especially useful for promoting your first event.  See Promotion and Publicity to find out more. 

In the long term, you should aim to set up a Website for the group.  The BHA can help with this, including providing you with a web address (see the IT Guide for advice on this).

Step 6 - Arrange a first event 

Having an event to put on your group’s first promotional material is a good way to grab people’s attention.  It will be an opportunity to launch the group and to find other people in your area willing to help out.  When arranging your first event, consider the following:

  • It should be at a time and place that will allow the most people to come;
  • You will be addressing the attendees for part of it, so think about your choice of venue and what you will want to say;
  • The attendees will need to be somewhere they feel comfortable mingling and chatting;
  • It should be located in easy-reach of good public transport links and be accessible to people with special access needs (such as a wheelchair). 
A section of, or room in, a quiet pub may be suitable; or a room in a local business or institution (e.g. a cafe that would normally be shut that might stay open for you). 

Venues used by local groups have included - 
  • Function rooms in pub clubs or members clubs  (some pubs offer these for free on weekday nights);
  • Cafes;
  • Meeting rooms in libraries;
  • Rooms in education institutions (Universities/colleges etc).

Try to avoid meeting in someone's house, as this can be intimidating for new members. You should let the BHA know of the venue you choose as they can record this on your group's record and it will be used for your group's marker on the BHA's groups map.  

You could also think about inviting a guest speaker for your first meeting. See the 'Speakers' page to find or recommend speakers.

Step 7 - Promote the group and its first event

It is now time to tell people that your group is holding it's inaugural event .  If you have set up a Facebook or Meetup account, you should set an event page. This will give you a link you can share as you promote your event.  

In relation to the first event should contact the following organisations and ask them to inform their members and contacts about your group and its first event. 
You should write a Press Release and email it to local newspapers.  There is guidance on how to this on the Groups Hub.  You can also promote your group and its first event using the same methods as you would for future activities.  See Promotion and Publicity for further details.

Step 8 - Hold your first event

These are some of the things that you may decide to do or say at your first event: 
  • Welcome everyone, thank them for coming, and introduce yourself and the other organisers.
  • Briefly outline the reasons for setting up the group.
  • Give a brief overview of atheism, humanism and secularism. 
  • Find out if there is enough interest to setting up a group.
  • Say what the next steps in establishing the group might be.  This may include electing a committee and organising a programme of activities. 
  • Allow time for questions and say that people are welcome to approach you afterwards when everyone is mingling.
  • Have a sign-up sheet for people who would like to become members or supporters.
  • It helps to have arranged a time, date and venue for a follow up events so you can inform attendees on the first night.
  • Mingle, chat and have fun! 

Step 7b - Hold more meetings and events

Once you have held your inaugural meeting, you should use any momentum and ideas you have arranging and promoting future meetings.   

Step 9 - Elect a committee 

During the initial stages of setting a group up it is quite acceptable for the people doing all the work to be self appointed, but you will need to formalise and democratise the structure of the group at some stage within the first six months or so. The first step is to elect a committee, which consists of the officers who will run the group. See Committees and Officers to find out about the officers and their responsibilities.

Step 10 - Create a constitution 

Your group will need to a constitution, and there are certain clauses that it should contain.  See Constitutions for details and for a model constitution that you can use as a template for your group.

Step 11 - Define membership and set fees

It is important that groups define what a member is. Is it anyone who attends an event or signs up to a list?  Is it anyone who has paid a membership fee?  Some groups distinguish between members and supporters, where the former have the right to vote at general meetings and to stand for election to the committee, and the latter do not. 

Group membership fees/subscriptions

It is up to groups to decide whether or not to charge a membership fee.  Fees can be used to pay for any legitimate group-related activities (such as the hiring of rooms, providing refreshments, and paying the group’s annual fee to the BHA). Some groups choose to not charge a fee and raise fund by, for example. asking for voluntary donations from attendees at each event.

There are two common models:

Groups without membership fees - In this model, members of the BHA are considered ‘group members’ and have voting and election rights. BHA Members can confirm this status using a BHA Memberships card. Non-BHA members are considered ‘group supporters’ and can be anyone who attends an event or is on the group’s mailing list, or similar arrangement. Group income can be raised through voluntary contributions at each event and at fund-raising events. This is an open and flexible model, and allows people to feel free to turn up without having to commit to paying a fee.  It also provides a regular income throughout the year.

Groups with membership fees - Only group members have voting and election rights, and are those people who have paid the fees. Group supporters are anyone else who attends events or is signed up to mailing lists. There might be restrictions on which events supporters can attend for free. BHA membership status is irrelevant in this model.   

Step 12 - Become a Partner

The goal of this process is for your group to become a fully signed up Partner Group of the BHA.  The minimum criteria for Partnership Status is outlined in the Partnership Agreement - 

  • Have elected a Committee
  • Have 2 active officers who are also members of the BHA
  • 10 group members and/or at least a typical attendance of 6 people at its regular meetings

Once a new group is established and has met the minimum criteria, the groups chair or president should sign the Partnership Agreement on behalf of the group. This outlines what the relationship between the BHA and the Group. For more information, see the 'Becoming a BHA Partner'.

A new Partner must also sign the Child Safeguarding and Data Protection agreements.  Full details and copies of all of the required agreements can be found on the 'Agreements' page.

Next steps

By the time your group has become a Partner, you should be well established with a regular membership and a programme of events,. The BHA has produced a number of guides that can help in Running a local group. These include - 
  • Promotion and Publicity - This guide will help you inform the public of your events and activities and attract new members.
  • Logos and Styles - This guide will help you create a distinctive brand and a logo for your online and printed material
  • Finances - This guide will give you advice on setting up a bank account, setting membership fees, raising money and has information on the Partnership Fees 
  • Campaigning - Your new group may wish to get engaged in a local or national campaign.  This section has advice on how your group can get involved with the BHA's national campaigns.