The ILS Committee has spent the last year discussing the best way forward to secure the financial and legal status of the Society and has resolved to put to the membership at our 2018 AGM a proposal that we apply for charitable status. The Committee will put to the membership at the AGM the proposal that we apply to form the Society into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Adopting the CIO model would allow that the Society could adopt a constitution very similar to the current ILS Rules and would allow for simplified reporting responsibilities (CIOs report only to the Charities Commission and not Companies House – a Charitable Company is required to report to both). There are several stimulating considerations for this move: (1) The ILS currently has no legal status and cannot enter into contracts, thus limiting our ability to develop plans with venues and talent; (2) ILS Committee members are currently financially and legally liable for any liabilities incurred by the Society – this is unsustainable; (3) greater funding and partnership opportunities will be open to us if we are constituted as a charity.
Following Committee debate, professional legal consultation and advice from like organisations we have concluded that the CIO model is suitable to the scale and needs of the Society. While the relatively simple process of incorporation would resolve our liability concerns the further step to acheive charitable status was preferred as it offered greater potential benefits to the Society while maintaining voting rights for members and a simple reporting mechanism. The Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) legal structure has proven to be very popular for new and existing unincorporated charities. Over 12,500 new CIOs have been established since its introduction in December 2012 and CIOs now account for over 50% of new charity registrations. Should members vote in favour of the transformation the Committee would be tasked with applying for CIO status to the Charity Commission under the CIO Association model. Should the application be approved the Irish Literary Society would attain a legal corporate and charity status and the assets of the Society as currently formed would be transferred to this new entity. Continuity of identity is essential to this process and our thinking throughout has been steered by the need to maintain the ethos of the Society and the rights of members. This step will allow the Society to maintain its current democratic set-up and will open to it greater opportunities for sponsorship and partnerships. We are currently working on developing draft constitution and a budget for the process of transforming the Society into a CIO and will present a breakdown of the potential costs along with the proposal at the AGM.
Such a significant step requires that we consult with our members so we are asking for members to contact us with concerns and opinions on the matter prior to our sending out a formal proposal to members with notice of the 2018 AGM. If you want to have a say on this matter prior to the vote or have experience of applying for charitable status please contact the Honorary Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org