A charter is a formal document drawn up by a club, group, business or entity that gives privileges, rights and powers to those listed in the document. Examples are charters that are drawn up for sports teams, city councils, and even the United Nations. Establishing a charter means to set it into place or to create it. While it may take some time write up, a charter can provide direction and protection to an entity by outlining the group's purpose, goals and membership requirements.
Determine the purpose of the organization or entity. What is the reason it exists? Why was it established? For instance, if you are forming a writing group, will members be critiquing one another's work? Will there be deadlines for everyone to adhere to, so that writing goals are met? Write this description down in detail, so there is no question regarding the group's purpose.
Explain the leadership hierarchy of the entity. Who will be in charge? In many groups, there is a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. If you do not want this format, who will be in charge of running meetings to make sure no one dominates the conversation? While this can be an individual, it can also be done by a committee within the group. And how will membership be determined -- by vote, application or appointment? Commit these items to paper, as well, to refer back to later.
List the group's goals, with clear steps as to how these goals will be met. For instance, if the organization is an investing group, do not simply state "make a million dollars." While this may be the group's goal, spell out how this will be achieved in measurable steps.
Spell out membership requirements, such as age, education or experience. While private organizations and groups have a right to choose membership based on their own rules, just be aware that the charter can be legally challenged if membership is perceived as discriminatory. For example, if people are refused admittance into the group based on racial or gender preferences, they may have legal grounds to sue.
Type up a formal copy of the charter. Have all current leadership read over the charter and sign a copy, showing it has formally been accepted. Display a copy of the charter where other members can easily see it during meetings, or give a copy to new members for their records.
A charter may not be recognized as a legal document; particularly if it breaks any laws.
Writing a mission statement -- one sentence that defines the purpose and goals of an organization -- is a good way to begin a charter.
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