Guidance on AGMs

Guidance on Annual General Meetings for Groups and Districts

This guidance is based upon the constitution for Scout Groups and Districts (POR 3.23 and 4.25 respectively), POR as a whole and the Charity Commission requirements and guidance. We hope the information will enable you to successfully plan and hold your Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in accordance with all the statutory requirements.

You are required to hold your AGM within 6 months of the end of your financial year. For many Groups and Districts (but not all) the financial year ends on the 31st March – so you have until the end of September to hold your AGM. There is a trend to ‘get it out of the way as early as possible’ and it is clear that a number of Groups and Districts have not thought through the steps that had to complete before they could hold their AGM. Hopefully this guidance will help to overcome such issues.

Before you hold your AGM: 

  1. Prepare your annual accounts for the year (see later for further details, but be aware of the common issues like not including all the Group or District assets (including land, buildings and equipment), subscriptions and not including all sections, e.g. Explorers, Network and Active Support in the case of Districts).
  2. Prepare your annual report (see later for further details).
  3. Get your annual accounts (and any relevant parts of your annual report) independently examined / scrutinised by the independent examiner appointed at the previous year’s AGM.
  4. Hold a Group / District Executive meeting at which the examined accounts and annual report are agreed by the Group / District Executive (the Trustees).
  5. Advertise the details of the AGM to all the Group / District Scout Council Members (see below for details).
  6. Seek nominations for the Executive Committee and ensure that individuals are properly aware of what is involved.

If you have not completed points 1 to 5 above, you cannot not hold your AGM. Instead you must defer your AGM to a suitable date after all the above are complete.

Group AGMs 

The standard agenda for a Group AGM is:

  1. Apologies (& Attendance)
  2. To agree minutes of previous years AGM
  3. To receive & consider the Annual Report (previously agreed and signed off by the Group Executive)
  4. To receive & consider the Financial Report (Previously agreed and signed off by the Group Executive)
  5. To reappoint any President/Vice Presidents (period may be for up to 5 years)
  6. To approve the GSL’s nomination for Group Chairman
  7. To elect the other officers (Secretary & Treasurer)
  8. To elect members to the Group Executive (normally 4 to 6 max)
  9. The GSL to announce their nominations for the Executive (must not exceed the number elected)
  10. To agree the co-option of members onto the Executive (must not exceed the number elected)
  11. To appoint an independent examiner for the coming year
  12. To formally record those Section Leaders (this is only the overall Leader for each Section, not every Section Leader) who have opted to be members of the Group Executive.
  13. Any resolutions (e.g. quorum for Group Executive meetings or constitution amendments / updates).
  14. Close the formal meeting (Do not include an item like "Any other business" - it is not part of the AGM)

This should take approximately twenty minutes if everything is prepared and documents circulated to the Group Scout Council beforehand.

Membership of the Group Scout Council (the only ones able to vote at the Group AGM) consists of: 

  • All Leaders, Section Assistants, Skills Instructors & Helpers
  • Parents/Guardians of all young members
  • Executive Members, Group Advisors & Administrators
  • The appointed independent Examiner/Scrutineer
  • Group President/Vice Presidents (if any)
  • Members of any Group Active Support Unit
  • Sponsoring authority representative (if you have a sponsoring authority like the local church)
  • Other supporters by agreement
  • Patrol Leaders
  • Explorer Leaders (if included in the units partnership agreement)
  • Representatives from the Scout District (the District Commissioner and District Chairman are ex-officio members)

You must ensure that all the above are informed well in advance of the date, time and place of the Group AGM (e-mails to all members on the Headquarters database and parents are fine with requests to Leaders to pass on to those without e-mail).

All members of the Group Scout Council must also have an opportunity to read all the key documents for the AGM (including agenda, previous year’s AGM draft minutes, nomination forms / arrangements, annual report, annual accounts and any motions) before the AGM. For example this can be achieved but putting them on a Group website (and letting the Group Scout Council know where they are), by mailing the documents out. If this is not possible, you’ll need to make arrangements for hard copies of all this information to be available at the AGM venue and accessible well before the meeting.

It is always good a good idea to try to hold a Group AGM in combination with another Group activity in order to attract parents along (they come if their children are involved in someway). For example this could be a Group presentation evening, a Group Camp, a fundraising activity or a social activity (like a barbecue).

District AGMs 

The standard agenda for a District AGM is:

  1. Apologies (& Attendance)
  2. To agree minutes of previous years AGM
  3. To receive & consider the Annual Report (previously agreed and signed off by the District Executive)
  4. To receive & consider the Financial Report (previously agreed and signed off by the District Executive)
  5. To reappoint any President/Vice Presidents (their period may be for up to 5 years)
  6. To approve the DC’s nomination for District Chairman
  7. To elect the other officers (Secretary & Treasurer)
  8. To elect members to the Executive (normally 4 to 6 max)
  9. The DC to announce their nominations for the Executive (must not exceed the number elected)
  10. To agree the co-option of members onto the Executive (must not exceed the number elected)
  11. To appoint an independent examiner for the coming year
  12. To elect Group Scouter to represent the District on the County Scout Council
  13. Close the formal meeting (Do not include an item like "Any other business")

This should take approximately a quarter of hour if everything is prepared and documents circulated to the District Scout Council beforehand.

Membership of the District Scout Council: 

  • Commissioners
  • District and Group Active Support Managers
  • Scouters (Leaders)
  • Administrators
  • Section Assistants
  • Skills Instructors
  • Advisers
  • All Explorer Scouts
  • All members of the District Scout Network
  • Chairmen of Troop Leadership Forums in the District
  • Members and Associate Members of the Movement registered in the Scout District and including Members of District Scout Active Support Units
  • All parents of Explorer Scouts
  • Persons elected or re-elected annually by the District Scout Council, on the recommendation of the District Commissioner and the District Executive Committee
  • The County Commissioner and County Chairman are ex-officio members of the District Scout Council. 

Please ensure that all the above are informed well in advance of the date, time and place of the District AGM (e-mails to all members on the Headquarters database are fine with requests to managers to pass on to those without e-mail).

All members of the District Scout Council must also have an opportunity to read all the key documents for the AGM (including agenda, previous year’s AGM draft minutes, nomination forms / arrangements, annual report, annual accounts and any motions) before the AGM. For example this can be achieved but putting them on a District website (and letting the District Scout Council know where they are) or by mailing the documents out. If this is not possible, you’ll need to make arrangements for hard copies of all this information to be available at the AGM venue and accessible well before the meeting.

It is always good a good idea to try to hold a District AGM in combination with another District activity in order to attract people along , particularly if young people are involved in someway). For example this could be a District presentation evening, a District Camp, a fundraising activity or a social activity (like a barbecue).

Guidance 

The Charity Commission provides a lot of guidance (including the things that the Group /District Executives legally have to do) for preparing annual reports and annual accounts. A good place to start is publication CC15b - Charity Reporting and Accounting: The Essentials. Some key points from this include:

  • SORP The Statement of Recommended Practice - Accounting and Reporting by Charities, issued in March 2005, sets out the recommended practice for the purpose of preparing the Trustees’ Annual Report and for preparing the accounts on the accruals basis.
  • All registered charities with a gross turnover exceeding £10,000 are under a legal duty to complete and return the online Annual Return form to the Commission.
  • All charities (whether registered with the Charity Commission or not) must prepare Annual Accounts and make them available on request.
  • Registered charities must prepare an Annual Report and make it available on request. All other charities should prepare Annual Accounts and similarly make them available on request.
  • Excepted charities. These do not have to register with the Charity Commission, but in other respects are similarly regulated by the Charity Commission. Examples are charities whose gross turnover is less than £5,000 per year and can include churches and chapels of certain religious charities and Scout and Guides Groups. Scout Groups can therefore be registered charities (which has a number of benefits) or excepted charities. Do you know which you are?

All charities must: 

  • Keep accounting records. These records (e.g. cash books, invoices, receipts, Gift Aid records etc.) must be retained for at least 6 years. Where Gift Aid payments are received records will need to be maintained for 6 years with details of any substantial donors and to identify ‘tainted charity donations’ in accordance with HMRC guidance.
  • Make the accounts available to the public on request. This is important for public accountability, and must be complied with in all cases. It is open to trustees to make a reasonable charge to cover the costs of complying with the request (e.g.  photocopying and postage).
  • Make the Annual Report available to the public on request where one is required to be prepared.

Filing Annual Accounts and Annual Reports

The duty to file the complete Annual Accounts and the Annual Report with the Charity Commission currently applies to all registered charities whose gross yearly turnover exceeds £25,000. The Annual Report and Annual Accounts are filed online (see link: www.gov.uk/send-charity-annual-return​)

Annual Return form – preparation and filing

The duty to complete and file the Annual Return with the Charity Commission applies to all registered charities whose gross yearly turnover exceeds £10,000 – below this level, registered charities are asked to complete and file an update form. 

Each registered charity receives an Annual Return form from the Commission (sent via e-mail to the person registered with the Charity Commission as the point of contact for the Charity) shortly after its financial year end. In all cases the Annual Return should be completed online (see link: www.gov.uk/send-charity-annual-return​). In order to ensure that you receive this e-mail, please make sure that your charities details (particularly your point of contact) are kept up to date with the Charity Commission.

The Annual Return form (and the update form for smaller charities) enables the Charity Commission to ensure that the details of every charity on the Register of Charities are as complete and accurate as possible. The Annual Return gives us basic financial details, and details of contacts, trustees, activities and of the charity’s classification.

What goes in the Annual Report (legally required): 

  • Reference and administration details
    • List the Trustees (and dates)
    • Other key individuals in the Charity
  • Structure, governance and management
    • Ref to constitution, key policies and procedures
    • Risk and internal controls
  • Objectives and key activities
  • Achievements and performance
  • Finance Review – including your Reserves and Investment policy
  • Future plans
  • Declaration (i.e. approval by the Group / District Executive)

See Annex H of CC15b for the full details of the mandatory requirements of the Annual report.
The Scout Association Form LT700001 or free text can be used. 
Typically a good Group / District Annual report is 3 to 4 A4 pages in length. As a worked examples, the County's annual report for several years can be found on the County website.
Note: It is NOT a series of Section or Group reports – although you may have such a report as well for information.

Annual Accounts: 

  • Under £100k turnover, simple receipts and payments accounts
    • The Scout Association Form LT700002/3, Excel, Word or free text can be used
  • Over £100k turnover, accrual accounts must be used
    • The Scout Association Form LT700004 or free text can be used
  • All significant assets owned by the District must be recorded, e.g. buildings, campsites and equipment. Each does not have to have a totally up to date valuation, but buildings and property should be valued every decade and all equipment included on a register (for insurance purposes).
  • For Groups, all Group finances must be included in the turnover, e.g. subscriptions received and passed on to District, all Group income like hiring of headquarters & equipment, fundraising, all section turnover (Beavers, Cubs & Scouts), donations, any Scout Active Support Units and funds for specific purposes like a camp or trip. So your gross turnover may be a lot higher than you think!
  • For Districts, all District finances must be included in the turnover, e.g. subscriptions received and passed on to County, all District Explorer Units, all District Scout Networks, all Scout Active Support Units, campsites and funds for specific purposes like a District camp or visit. So your gross turnover may be a lot higher than you think!
  • Declaration (i.e. approval by the Group / District Executive)

Keep the annual accounts as simple and make sure you understand them! As Trustees, all the Group / District Executive are agreeing them.

The Charity Commission provide a lot of guidance including:

  • Independent Examination of Charity Accounts: Trustees’ Guide (CC31)
  • Independent Examination of Charity Accounts: Examiners’ Guide (CC32)
  • Receipts and Payments Accounts Pack (CC16)
  • Accruals Accounts Pack (CC17)

Practicalities:  

  1. After the end of financial year, the very earliest that the Group / District Treasurer is likely to have all the financial information to hand is approximately 6 weeks.
  2. It will then take a few weeks for the Group / District Treasurer to compile to annual accounts and the relevant sections of the annual report and another couple of weeks for the independent examiner to do their full examination.
  3. Meanwhile the Group / District Secretary can compile the rest of the annual report and incorporate sections from the Group / District Treasurer, Group / District Chairman and Group Scout Leader / District Commissioner.
  4. Once they are all happy, you then need a full Group / District Executive to review, approve (ideally unanimously) and sign off the annual report and annual accounts. As required, these are normally sent to the Charity Commission as soon as practical after your AGM. Please remember that these are public documents and can (and will) be read by others and your charities records need to be kept up to date on the Charity Commission website. For example, if you apply for any funding, the funding agencies will automatically check your charities record and documents. 
  5. For several months before the AGM, the Group Scout Leader / District Commissioner (and Group / District Chair) should be sounding out existing officers (Chair, Secretary and Treasures) and Executive members about standing again (especially in nominated positions). Any key gaps should have individuals identified and sounded out to fill the roles well before the AGM. This is vital, but rarely happens! Volunteer
  6. Please make sure that all new (and existing) Executive Members are aware of the responsibilities that they are undertaking. This can typically done running through the role descriptions with them (for ease of reference these are available by clicking here).
  7. Meanwhile the Group / District Secretary should be ensuring that all members of the Group / District Scout Council are aware of the need and know how to nominate members to be elected to the Group / District Executive.
  8. After this you can have your short, well prepared, Group / District AGM! No surprises on the night! No "Any other business". 
  9. After the AGM, please make sure that you update all members of the Executive Committee on Compass (including any Sections Leaders who have opted to join the Group Executive). The review date for all Executive Members should be in just over a years time, i.e. to allow for the next years AGM. In this process, new Executive members will make the Trustees declaration. Please also remember to remove any Executive Member roles on Compass from people that step down at the AGM.
  10.  Make sure that all Executive Members complete the necessary training. From 2016 onwards this requires all new Executive Members to complete Module 1E (Essential Information for Executive Members) within 5 months of the AGM at which they are appointed. This training module is available: 
  • As a local 2½​ hour training course - please contact yout Local training Manager.
  • As e-learning from The Scout Association (click here

Once the training is completed and appropriately validated, please make sure that this recorded on Compass (contact your Local Training Manager for the local arrangements for doing this).

Hopefully these notes will help you to have a great AGMs and fantastic Executive Committees!
Note: There is a myth that all the Groups in a District need to hold their AGMs before the District can hold theirs - this is not the case!
Many thanks for your help.  

In Hereford & Worcester we offer a short, quiet intense 3¼ hour Executive Training sessions (for details please click here). These sessions cover the above points, answer questions and point attendees in the right direction, including where to look for further information. The sessions are typically offered on a District basis; so if you have enough people who would like to attend, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. This Executive Training is in addition to the mandatory Module 1E training requirement.