NCVO and Social Enterprise UK
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Case Study: Groundwork

Name of organisation

The Federation of Groundwork Trusts

Legal form

A federation of charitable companies limited by guarantee (CLG) with one national ‘umbrella’ or charity (‘Groundwork UK’) and a number of local or regional independent charities (‘Groundwork Trusts’) many of which have associated subsidiary trading companies limited by shares (CLS).

Where, what and how

The umbrella charity, The Federation of Groundwork Trusts, or ‘Groundwork UK’ is a major national charity which works through its federation of independent ‘Groundwork Trusts’ to build sustainable communities in areas of need through joint environmental action.

The Groundwork Trusts operate in distinct and separate geographical areas of the UK in partnership with other private and public sector bodies for example local authorities. Often those partners are company members of the Groundwork Trusts. Groundwork UK is a company member of all Groundwork Trusts and has a right to nominate a trustee to the board of every Groundwork Trust.

The federation operates democratically such that all the local and regional Groundwork Trusts are company members (and the only company members) of Groundwork UK. As members they have rights to appoint trustees for three year terms to the board of Groundwork UK on a partial regional electoral college basis. Groundwork UK is able to protect the quality of operations and the Groundwork brand through the membership contract which all Groundwork Trusts are required to sign.

Groundwork Trusts are social enterprises which derive most of their income from primary purpose trading. Some Groundwork Trusts have opportunities to earn income from trading more commercially; these opportunities are channelled through and exploited by trading subsidiaries of these Groundwork Trusts. Each trading subsidiary operates under a licence and at arms length from its parent Groundwork Trust.

Why the form fits

A federation allows Groundwork UK to protect the organisation as a whole while allowing local organisations to freedom they need to succeed.