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Function

If your group is going to be effective in what it seeks to achieve, don't choose an off-the-shelf process that does not suit the members, or the objectives of the group. Whether you form an affinity group, informal association, collective, co-operative, incorporated association, or corporation, don't choose a structure that you're not committed to, or that you are not sure you can follow through on, long term.

With this rule in mind, you will be able to consider the following questions with much more clarity:

  • Who can be a member of the group - why are you including some and excluding others?
  • How does the group make decisions - what do you do when there is disagreement?
  • How are meetings conducted - will it have an agenda, facilitator and minute taker?
  • If you need expert help, should such help be co-opted into your group, or consulted as an advisor, or be part of a reference group or steering committee?
  • What are the ground rules of communication between members - is there a clear conflict resolution process in place?
  • Does the constitution of the organisation honestly reflect its real objectives, or is it a "sham" devised to attract, say, tax concessions?
  • Can the organisation honestly follow its own rules and constitution - or does it run a parallel system of governance beside the 'legal' one?