Planning your structure

Structuring your organisation involves making a decision as to which of several possible organisational structures will best suit your group’s objectives. These objectives will be articulated in the mission statement identified in the starting-up phase of your planning.

Choosing a structure

What structure would most suit your needs, resources and mission? Options include charitable trust, incorporated society, co-operative etc. Charitable trust structures are most common but consider other options such as a co-operative, formally unstructured group.

Consult with other organisations. What role will you play? As co-ordinator, you may find your workload becomes overwhelming. Delegate! Outcomes from this stage could include formulating a working group of at least three people to effectively divide up the work.

Formulating your structure

How many members will your organisation have? How often will you meet? What range of work will the group undertake?

It’s essential to have a clear guiding document to refer back to. Outcomes from this stage could include written rules, a deed of trust, a letter of agreement or a draft constitution.


Who will keep financial records? Who will be paid for their work, and how much? Regardless of whether your group adopts a formal legal structure, you may have tax obligations. It’s important to keep things transparent from the start. Outcomes from this stage could include registering with Inland Revenue and instituting an accounting regime.

If you are a not-for-profit organisation and registered with Inland Revenue as an approved donee organisation, donors to your organisation can claim a tax rebate on their donation. There are significant tax rebate benefits for individuals and companies making donations to not-for-profits.

Useful links

Sample charitable trust deed

Incorporated society information

Sample incorporated society rules

Forms required for registering your charitable trust

Forms required for registering your incorporated society

Getting on Board: this is a resource guide for arts organisations published by Creative New Zealand


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