Setting up a charity and a society

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Low Carbon West Oxford decided to become constituted as a formal organisation in order to maintain and build the community’s trust, seeing this as an important way to enable greater community participation. They considered various governance options, including becoming a charity, a society or a Community Interest Company. They eventually decided to set up two separate organisations: Low Carbon West Oxford (LCWO) and West Oxford Community Renewables (WOCoRe). LCWO is a registered charity that runs carbon reduction and behaviour change projects, while WOCoRe is a Community Benefit Society which produces renewable energy. Although this adds an extra administrative burden, it allows WOCoRe to offer anyone in the world a chance to invest in its renewable energy projects, whereas LCWO focuses on working specifically with and for the benefit of West Oxford, offering free and open membership to anyone living there. WOCoRe membership is available to anyone who buys its shares, which are set very low with the minimum block costing just £10, to allow a broad range of people to invest in the community.

Source: Low Carbon West Oxford and West Oxford Community Renewables (2010), Low Carbon Living: Power to make it possible