Template -Terms of Reference – Special Interest Groups

The document below should be edited to fit your special interest group (SIG). Some example text has been provided but can be deleted or edited as required.

Last updated: (insert date) – for more details see the update log below.


A Terms of reference document defines the purpose and structures of a project, committee, meeting, negotiation, or any similar collection of people who have agreed to work together to accomplish a shared goal. Terms of reference show how the object in question will be defined, developed, and verified.

This document details the terms of reference for the organisation and delivery of (Add group name and summary here)

As a charity, the Society must fulfill its legal obligations in many areas including but not limited to: equality, diversity and inclusivity, financial regulation, working with volunteers, protecting reputation, liability insurance, cancellation insurance, GDPR. 

Many of these legal obligations feature in the organisation of this working group and the Society Trustees must take responsibility for certain decisions and actions while at the same time formally delegating the organisation and delivery to the SIG committee. Final responsibility in all matters lies with the Society.

Where the term “the Society” is used, this refers to the Board of Trustees (as the elected representatives of the organisation) unless specified otherwise.


This Terms of Reference is effective from (insert date trustees voted to hand delegated responsibility to SIG chair) and continues until the (insert expected date of completion). 

Committee Aim

What is the aim of the SIG committee? Does this help the Society’s charitable objectives?

To organise and deliver a relevant outcome for the RSE community providing a balanced and varied programme catering to all RSE roles and skill levels. Creating multiple comfortable and interesting social events.

Purpose and Aim of the SIG’s outputs

What event or outputs will the SIG generate? What is the purpose and aim of those outputs, and is it the society or SIG committee that’s responsible for setting that purpose? Please consider what the Society wants to achieve, as well as what the community wants and needs.

The  purpose and aim of this SIG is to…

This purpose has been decided in collaboration between the SIG steering group and Society and under careful consideration of the RSE community and the external environment at this time. This purpose is not expected to change, and if significant changes are required they should be proposed to a Society trustee meeting for consideration and approval. 


What is the approximate budget and requirements for the SIG? How will this be generated? What is the approximate amount that will be requested through the Society’s Events and Initiatives policy?

The approximate annual budget for the SIG is… 

The estimated proportion of this that will be requested through the Society’s Events and Initiatives Policy is… This will be requested in a timely manner, at least 1 month before it is required so that it can be approved at the monthly trustee meeting. If funding is required quicker than anticipated, the Society will make this available as part of their support for the SIG.

The remaining part of the budget will be acquired through…

Insurance Policies

What insurance policies, if any, are required for this SIG? 

The Society Treasurer will ensure that any events are covered with appropriate insurance policies like but not limited to: Public Liability insurance, Events cancellation insurance. This should be organised in conjunction with the SIG committee so that all involved have full knowledge of what is both required and purchased.


How will the SIG committee report on progress to the Society, and how frequently?

The Society requests that one of the SIG committee reports on progress to the Society trustee meetings every three months. This can be the same person each time or change as necessary depending on availability. The report can be made in person, or emailed to any one of the trustees for inclusion in the agenda. If required, the Society can create a folder on the google drive for the SIG’s documents.

Committee Roles 

How will the SIG committee be structured? Which roles, if any, will be taken by members of the Society? How will volunteers be supported and guided? Will there be a steering group within the committee, if so which roles will be part of it? When will roles be appointed, and what is the process? Include a diagram/image of the committee structure if needed.

The SIG committee will consist of a majority of volunteers without any requirement that they be members of the Society. The SIG steering group will comprise a smaller section of the committee and most will be Society members. The Steering Group should ensure that working as a committee member is a fun and learning experience. To that end, we look for a proactive attitude from the Steering Group to ensure that tasks are evenly spread, giving opportunities to all volunteers to learn new skills and gain confidence. 

Four volunteers will form the Steering Group: (list roles). This steering group takes responsibility collectively for all decisions and can vote when unable to agree unanimously. If this vote doesn’t lead to agreement, (role) has the casting vote.

For induction, the Steering Group is asked to:

The process for appointing the SIG committee is as follows:

  1. The Society will launch an open call for a minimum of three weeks to the RSE Community to fill the initial open SIG roles. 
  2. Once established the SIG will manage it’s own appointments, launching a call for volunteers when required. 

The open call is looking to fill these roles typically: (list roles)

Onboarding of Committee members

The Society asks that the Steering Group ensure that an initial onboarding meeting takes place to cover the following (but not limited to) activities:

  • Introductions and icebreaker
  • Circulate this document and ask all to read it carefully
  • Ask each member to take the free (mandatory) online EDI training on https://elearning.acas.org.uk/
    • Bullying & Harassment
    • Discipline & Grievance
    • Equality & Diversity
    • Disability Discrimination and Reasonable Adjustments
  • Read the Organisation Code of Conduct
  • Read the Complaints and Grievances policy
  • Volunteer policy – see charity governance
    • Complete the free ‘Good Practice in Volunteer Management

Removal of unproductive committee members 

In the unlikely event of an important committee role not being fulfilled with the possibility of that inaction jeopardising the SIG, the Steering group reserves the right to ask that volunteer to step down and will appoint a new person in that role. The new person will be appointed by the Steering Group. If any committee member is concerned about the behaviour or inaction of a fellow committee member, they can raise a grievance through our Complaints and Grievances Policy

The Society reserves the right to remove any member of the Steering group if sufficient progress is not being made and this inaction is thought to lead to a failure to deliver the SIGs goals.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity

How will you work towards making the SIGs goals fit within our EDI policy and make any events open and accessible to all? 

The SIG committee will read and follow the Society’s EDI policy [LINK], and ensure that there are goals in regards to equality, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. These statements will be agreed on by the Society and the Steering Group as a reflection of the Society’s aspirations and goals for each of these areas for the RSE community.

The Society has an EDI team that are able to liaise and advise the SIG committee as needed, they can be contacted at {email}.

The Environment and Sustainability

If relevant, how will you make the SIG environmentally friendly and sustainable? Will there be any giveaways at events?

The Society asks that the committee think carefully about what giveaways it would like to make available to event attendees and make reasonable adjustments to minimise waste and the production of single use giveaways. 

This may take the form of 

  • using an online programme app instead of printed copies, 
  • compostable name badges, 
  • reusing previous years lanyards
  • encouraging attendees to bring reusable hot drink cups
  • only have one main event designed giveaway (t-shirt)

The Society asks that any giveaways be reusable and useful and that this same behaviour is communicated to the sponsors.


Will the SIG collect any feedback from events? If so, how will this be collected and will it be shared with the Society?

The Society asks the Steering Group to create a feedback form for any event attendees, encourage participation after the event and compile a summary and blog post for the Society website. 

Publicity and online presence

What publicity will the working group require? Would you like the Society to help set up accounts, a page on our website or to share materials? 

The Society will help in the creation of a twitter account and website and will actively help in the publicising of the SIG and any events from their own twitter account. Any publicity should refrain from making any political or religious statements, from liking political, religious or extreme views online (or indeed anywhere) and understands that it does not represent the Society or the Society’s views. 

Codes of Conduct (CoC)

The Society has two Codes of Conduct currently in place: an event CoC and an organisation CoC (also known as the Trustee Code of Conduct). The event CoC covers the expected conduct at events and on any online forums and apps. The organisation CoC covers the expected conduct for the committees and subgroups. The Society expects both of these CoCs to be adopted by the Steering Group. Any changes to either document would need to be requested to the Society and approved by trustee vote.