About Member Groups

A Member Group enables members of the Institute (and others) to share and advance their common interests in Information Technology. Member Groups are integral to BCS and are bound by the Institute’s Royal Charter and rules.

The responsibility of every Member Group is ‘to promote the study and practice of Computing and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public ‘ within its chosen area.

A Member Group can be a Branch, a Specialist Group, International Section or any other properly constituted (see Creating a Member Group) grouping approved by the Community Board on behalf of the Institute. Members of the Institute are encouraged to join and become active in Member Groups.

Branches and International Sections are geographic clusters of members; upon joining the Institute each member will be given the option of joining one or more Branches, the default is the Branch or International Section nearest to their home address. Specialist Groups are formed by a number of people with a common interest in some aspect of Information Technology, its application, or impact.

The Institute supports Member Groups, both financially and with other resources (details of which follow later). The Community Board provides a link into the Institute’s decision-making process and the Membership Group team of staff based at BCS Swindon are there to give practical assistance.

Every Member Group has an administrator in BCS Swindon who is there to support the Member Group - meet the Community team.

What does a Member Group do?

Each group has aims and objectives and, to achieve them, it arranges events such as presentations, conferences, seminars, workshops and social gatherings and facilitates networking. Each Member Group will typically hold four or more events a year, open to all members of the group.

Member Groups may also establish partnerships with other bodies in order to pursue joint initiatives, see the section on “Links with other organisations” for more information.

Who can join a Member Group?

Anyone can participate in a Member Group, although as explained in more detail elsewhere, only Institute members can vote at meetings. The mechanisms for joining a Member Group include using the BCS website or contacting Customer Services.

A Member Group can apply conditions of entry to the group, e.g. a group for young professionals might have an age limit. In general, conditions should be seen as reasonable and necessary for the group to be credible (e.g. BCS Women or BCS IT Leaders Forum) without discouraging those who wish to learn from those with more knowledge and experience.

Who can come to Member Group events?

Everyone is welcome to attend Member Group events unless the Member Group chooses to restrict attendance.

Where a meeting fee is charged, this should normally be lower for Institute members. The same applies, where practicable, to conferences and publications.

International Sections

Each year the Section Committee shall appoint a member of the Section Committee to serve as Liaison officer. This person must be prepared to work with the appropriate national computer society (or societies) of the country (or countries) in which the Section is located.

A Section should be established as a separate legal entity and be covered by combined liability insurance or as required locally. It should comply with local requirements in relation to any registration requirements. At no time will the Institute accept financial responsibility for the Section's activities other than by resolution of Trustee Board. The registered address of the Section (where needed under local Law) will be decided by the Section committee.

​Find an International Section​

Supplementary funding

Member groups may occasionally need additional funding beyond the scope of their awarded budget. For example, a special project that comes up after a budget proposal has been submitted. If you feel your member group committee needs to apply for this funding, please follow the supplementary funding request (SFR) process here.

Useful tools for arranging your committee meeting

  • Doodle - find out everyone’s availability with a digital poll
  • Calendly - view everyone’s calendar to find a suitable time to meet
  • HubSpot - a free meeting scheduler
  • Calendar Hero - find a suitable time to meet

When recruiting new members to your group, you can give your contacts a unique discount code to join your group. Request your member group discount code

BCS Member Group rules

BCS governance is based on a hierarchy of regulations, In respect of Member Groups this is as follows:-

Constitutions approved at the Member Group’s AGM. Note these are now optional for all Member Groups. Member Groups may choose not to have a constitution as the Member Group rules approved by Community Board now fulfil all the requirements of a Member Group constitution.

Each level must be compatible with the level above it. In the event of conflict between two documents the higher one takes precedence.

Download the full rules and process for Member Groups (PDF)

Managing your member group

As a volunteer on a committee, you are helping to run, and safeguard the future of, a BCS member group. Our member groups can be UK-based regional branches, specialist groups focused on a specific area of our industry, or international sections operating overseas. Find your branch or specialist group

Member Group finances

With the exception of International Sections, Member Groups/Branches finances are administrated centrally in BCS. UK-based Groups must not operate their own Bank account or hold cash / cheques which belong to BCS.

BCS uses the Accruals method to produce its annual accounts, that is income and expenses are matched to the year in which they are incurred, or the event takes place rather than when cash is received or paid out.

A member of a Member Groups must not receive any remuneration from the Group for work undertaken on behalf of the Group. Members may be contracted to do work by BCS Swindon.

Please refer to the following documents for further guidance and information;

Accounting services V7
Financial guidelines V4.3

The BCS financial year runs to 31 August. Member Groups (UK-based and International Sections) that require any kind of financial support from the Institute need to submit an annual budget bid in March for the following financial year. This will be considered by the Community Board Finance Committee in light of the overall funding available and a budget will be allocated.

The budget cycle

Month Description
February Community Groups are invited to submit a financial plan. Deadline for submission will be advised in the Budget Pack email sent out by the Community Groups Team (CGT) each year.
March Groups draw up their initial financial bids detailing proposed activities and send completed financial planning forms to the CGT to collate. The CGT will apply policy and consensual guidance to the proposals received, and provide feedback to Groups as necessary.
April First planning review meetings with Community Board Finance Committee (CBFC) to do a first pass on the proposals, and comments from the CGT. Corrections made where necessary and final bid to Trustee Board prepared.
May CBFC agree Groups budgets for routine running costs. Initial allocations made and an Unallocated Reserve created.
June/July Trustee Board meets to approve BCS budget. Final Community Groups Funds for the forthcoming financial year are confirmed.
August Community Groups are notified of agreed budget allocation in the light of the confirmed budget from Trustee Board.
1 September Start of new financial year.
September-August (Year +1) CBFC consider requests for additional funding (new projects, potential overspend, adjustment to budget line allocation) from the Unallocated Reserve and from the recovery of any previously allocated funds not required.

Branches and Groups spend according to their allocation budget lines. Any deviance from the approved split for the full year needs to be communicated with the CGT before expenditure is committed as it may require prior approval of CBFC.
February (Year +1) Cycle starts again
31 August

End of financial year.

Any funding unspent at the end of a financial year cannot be retained for use in a subsequent year. Roll-over funds may be available for those who earn income from sources other that sponsorships / donations. Guidance on the calculation

Budget process

Each year Member Groups, including International Sections, are invited to submit a budget bid for the following financial year. This will be considered by the Community Board Finance Committee in light of the overall funding available and a budget will be allocated. Funds can only be provided for operations and activities which support BCS’s charitable objectives.

Watch the budget training video 2022


If you have any queries please contact your group Coordinator in the first instance via groups@bcs.uk or 01793 417478.

Volunteer expenses

Please note that Non-BCS members are not able to claim expenses, unless there are exceptional circumstances and prior approval has been sought.

Download the expenses claim form (Updated: 14 November 2022)
NB Personal details, including bank account details, only need to be notified once.

The process for submitting claims is as follows:

  • Completing the form in full (which must include name and full postal address) soft copy.
  • Add bank details for BACS payments if NEW or AMENDED. If the same since the last payment, do not fill in.
  • Send to Group/Branch Treasurer or Chair via email for approval. Include digitally captured images of receipts to support all of the expenditure claimed (except mileage).
  • Due to audit requirements, please included the wording “please accept my attached expenses for processing, in the sum of £xxx relating to yyyy”.
  • Group/Branch Chair or Treasurer emails the expense form and any receipts to the Community Groups Team (CGT) on groups@bcs.uk stating they approve the expenses.
  • The CGT will then arrange for the approved expenses to be sent to Finance for processing and payment.

Alternatively if you are unable to email the form to the Treasurer/Chair/Secretary, please print a hard copy of the form, sign the bottom left and either hand to the Treasurer/Chair/Secretary in person or post to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, 3 Newbridge Square, Swindon SN1 1BY, together with receipts to support all of the expenditure claimed (except mileage).

If the claimant does not have a UK bank account, please use the following forms to provide bank details;

BACS Non-Europe - IBAN/SWIFT form
Volunteer expenses policy
Authorised signatories form


During July/August, the Chair and Treasurer are send a Year-End Return request asking for details of any outstanding claims or invoices which relate to the current financial year and where included in the budget submission.

This form should be returned to the email address given on the form no later than the date requested to allow for Year-End Audit deadlines. If you are unsure if items should be included please ask.

Download the Year-end return form

Appeals process

Appeal process against decisions of the Finance Committee.

1) Submission to Finance Committee refused or modified.
Each stage is escalated only if the problem has not been resolved or adequately explained.

  1. Talk to allocated coordinator of the Community Team.
  2. Email or in writing, to the Community Department Manager.
  3. Email or in writing, to the Chair of the Finance Committee.
  4. Email or in writing, to the Chair of Community Board (Vice-President, Community) for referral to Community Board.
  5. The decision of the Community Board is final.

Member Group representation

The Member Regulations (available in MyBCS) specify that Council shall include members elected by the following constituencies:-

  • 5 members elected by the Regional constituency
  • 2 members elected by the International constituency
  • 5 members elected by the Specialist Group constituency
  • 3 members elected by the Young Professionals constituency

In accordance with sections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 of the Member Regulations, the following process for nominations to these will be followed.


A member can be nominated to represent only one constituency at any one election. Nominees must meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Member Regulations for election to the Council.

Nominations will usually be sought in October / November for each of these constituencies.

Regional, International and Specialist Group Constituencies

The Regional constituency comprises the branches within the United Kingdom constituted under Bye-Law 47(d); the International constituency comprises the International Sections constituted under Bye-Law 47(f); and the Specialist Group constituency by the specialist groups constituted under Bye-Law 47(e).

A nominee for election by one of these constituencies must be a member of a group within that constituency when nominated and, if elected, they must remain a member of the group within the same constituency throughout their term of office on Council. The nominee need not be a committee member of a group.

A meeting will be called for the purpose of electing a representative to fill any ordinary vacancies in each of these constituencies. These meetings will usually be held electronically, with a period of voting when the Chair of each Member Group within a constituency (after consultation with their committee) should indicate that committee’s choice of candidate for that constituency via online voting. Successful candidates will commence their term at the close of the first BCS AGM after election.

Young Professionals Constituency

A nominee for this constituency must be a member of any age who is the Early Career Advocate of a branch or specialist group or the Chair of a Student Chapter at the time of their election and, if elected, will be an ex-officio member of the Early Career Executive for their term of office on Council.

A meeting will be called for the purpose of electing a representative to fill any ordinary vacancies in this constituency. The meeting will usually be held electronically, with a period of voting when the branch and specialist group Early Career Advocates and Student Chapter Chairs (after consultation with their respective committees) should indicate that committee’s choice of candidate via online voting. Successful candidates will commence their term at the close of the first BCS AGM after election.


Our Boards and Committees

BCS has three Boards, which report into the BCS Trustee Board with each led by an elected Vice-President.

The Community Board is one of these three Boards. Community Board ensuring that BCS membership brings value to everyone. It helps us to grow our membership and member groups, and to make sure you’re fully supported and guided as a member.

Meet the Community Board Members

Community Board has two sub-committees helping to improve all aspects of our membership: the Finance Committee, and the soon-to-be-formed Community Support Committee.


Resolution of problems is best achieved by amicable exchanges but it is essential that Member Group committees understand that rules can and will be enforced.

Because of their collective role as the first point of contact, most transgressions are likely to be initially identified by members of the Member Groups Team (MGT). Where a problem is identified the following steps will be taken:

  1. A member of the MGT will approach the Member Group and explain the issue to committee member, normally the Chair or the Treasurer (posts held by BCS professional members). The objective is to resolve the issue by explaining clearly which rule (or rules) are not being complied with and requesting the Member Group to make changes.
  2. If the group do not agree to comply the matter will be referred to the Community Board Policy Committee (CBPC). If the Chair of the CBPC is unable to make progress by personal contact, the Chair of CBPC will seek agreement from CBPC members to write formally to the Member Group on behalf of the CBPC. The letter will explain that the Member Group is in breach of the rules and ask them to confirm their compliance in writing by a specified date. The letter will explain the result of continued non-compliance.

Sanctions available to the CBPC include use of the BCS code of conduct where an individual is at fault and where the Member Group is at fault:

  • Suspending funding (if funding is suspended any expenditure incurred by the MG would be unauthorised and any officers authorising the expenditure could be jointly liable for the money spent.)
  • Suspending or closing the Member Group
Starting a Member Group

BCS welcomes and encourages the establishment of new Member Groups; properly established Groups have access to all the infrastructure (and budgetary opportunities) of the Institute.

Members wishing to create a new Group should be confident that:

  • the new Group's activities do not materially overlap with existing groups
  • there will be a population of current and potential BCS members who will be prepared to join and participate
  • they can identify a founding Committee (Chair, Secretary and Treasurer at the very least)
  • they can propose a costed (approximately) programme of activity for the initial year at least (activities do not have to be physical meetings)

Proposals for new Member Groups should be submitted to the Community Board, with the administration process undertaken by the BCS Community team. Other volunteer members, with subject expertise, may be co-opted where needed.

The process consists of four stages:

  1. An initial proposal that outlines the case for the formation of the new group
  2. A meeting of all interested parties to discuss the proposal and test the interest in the proposed group
  3. An expansion of the initial proposal to include operational details
  4. Approval by Community Board Finance Committee

View the full process here for your reference.

This process for starting a new member group is owned by BCS Community Board and all enquiries regarding this process should be come to groups@bcs.uk in the first instance with the proposal and provisional budget enclosed. If it is agreed that the proposal has merit, it will go to the Community Board for final approval.

A successful proposal will result in a Group that will be bound by the relevant rules and procedures.

A Member Group can set up a subgroup, which also is subject to the Member Group rules. A subgroup can be set up and is managed by the Member Group. It is often helpful to establish a subgroup, and then, if it is successful, to float it off as an independent group. Subgroups share the budget of the parent group.

Changing a Member Group

Changes to name, scope, geographic boundaries (where applicable), aims and objectives need to be approved by the Membership Board New Member Group Committee.

Member Groups that overlap in scope or geographic boundaries should consider merging. If members of a Member Group feel that the overlap is causing confusion they can ask the Membership Board to investigate and facilitate a resolution.

Closing a Member Group

Where the Member Group is not operating, has come to the end of its planned life or is in conflict with the Institute’s aims and objectives it may be suspended or closed down by decision of the Membership Board.

Any action will be preceded by consultation with members of the Member Group.

Member Group AGMs

Annual General Meetings (AGM)

Member Groups must organise an Annual General Meeting (AGM) once a year, where the committee reports to the membership on the previous year's activities and committee members are elected. The AGM should be called as soon as practicable after the close of the Institute's financial year (31 August).

At least fourteen days written notice (it may be via email) of the date, time and place of the AGM shall be given to Member Group members and to the Community Team (groups@bcs.uk). The calling notice should include, where appropriate, an agenda, a call for nominations to committee and explain where the minutes to be discussed can be found. The committee can choose to use virtual technologies in addition to, or instead of, holding a physical meeting.

The agenda should include:

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the previous AGM (and if appropriate EGM)
  • Matters arising from the minutes
  • A report from the Chair on the year’s activities (Annual report template), including a report from the Inclusion Officer and Early Careers Advocate.
  • A report from the Treasurer, including a review of income and expenditure against the budget agreed with BCS Swindon for the past year and an explanation of next year’s budget request.
  • Election of Chair, Treasurer and committee members
  • Any other business

Notification of items wishing to be raised at the AGM under "Any other business" should be sent to the Chair not less than three days in advance. Admission of items not so notified at the AGM will be at the discretion of the Chair.

Following the AGM, an electronic copy of the minutes and the Chair’s report must be sent to the Community Team (groups@bcs.uk) within one month after the AGM.

Extraordinary General Meetings (EGM)

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) shall be convened, if requested, by ten or more Institute members of the Member Group or by resolution of the Committee. The notice calling the meeting shall state the purpose of the meeting, which shall be convened on a date within five weeks of receipt of the request or the Committee resolution.

Managing Committees

Member Groups are managed by a committee elected by the members of the group at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) - although it is acceptable for someone to be co-opted onto the the committee at anytime of the year. The committee also has the power to set up subcommittees.

If you need support with your Member Group Committee, please contact your BCS Coordinator or use this contact form. To avoid legal liabilities as an employer, personnel must not be directly employed by a Member Group.

Instead of employing people, BCS Swindon should be requested to contract for local support on a Member Group’s behalf. A template for doing so will soon be made available. Funds to pay for any local support must be included in the group’s budget.


The Community team are responsible for welcoming new members to their group by email. Committees are responsible for welcoming new members in person when they first come to an event.

Members of Committee

The committee must have at least three professional BCS members, with mandatory roles of Chair, Treasurer and Inclusion Officer. In addition, committee members may take on a range of other roles. Non Institute members must abide by the BCS Code of Conduct and rules, the penalty for serious breaches is removal from the committee.

The Inclusion Officer and the Early Careers Advocate roles are also mandatory.

Election of Committee Members

​Committee Members are elected by members of the Institute either at the Member Group Annual General Meeting (AGM) or by a majority agreement if joining mid-year. The committee may appoint replacements for committee members (including the Chair and Treasurer) that resign mid-year. As the Chair and Treasurer are essential for the effective running of a group, they are specifically elected to their roles. A majority of the committee must be Institute members.

Where the Committee wishes to use remote voting they need to:

  • Talk to their contact on the BCS Member Group Team to check that resources will available to run the vote and to obtain templates for use in the following steps.
  • Ask Member Group members for nominations, which can include additional information to assist Member Group members to vote.
  • When asking for nominations the Committee must give at least two weeks before the deadline for nominations to be submitted.
  • Use the group’s website to make information about all candidates available to all those qualified to vote at least two weeks before the deadline for voting ends
  • BCS HQ will then operate an electronic vote on the Member Group’s behalf.
  • The Chair and Treasurer will get the result of the vote, and can ask for a list of those who have voted if they wish to accept additional votes on the night.

Co-opting Members to Committee

The committee can co-opt members to the committee as long as a majority of the committee (including co-opted members) are Institute members and the number of co-opted members does not exceed elected members.

Term of Office

This is determined for each post by the committee, subject to a maximum of three years before re-election. One year is the norm, with all members of committee standing down and, where they wish, putting themselves up for re-election.

Removing committee members

Committee members can be removed by a majority vote of the committee. There is a right of appeal to the Community PPP Committee.

Member Group Committee meetings

The Committee should meet regularly (either physically or electronically). Notice of committee meetings must be given to all members of the committee. The chair is expected to approve the minutes and an electronic copy of the minutes must be sent to the Community Team at groups@bcs.uk.

The following documents:

  • Conduct of business in BCS Boards and Committees
  • Conduct of electronic meetings and
  • Responsibilities of BCS officers


33% of the membership of the committee, with a minimum of the Chair or Treasurer plus two other members of the committee constitute a quorum. If there are fewer members present (in person, by phone or electronically) the meeting cannot make binding decisions.


A simple majority of elected committee members present is sufficient to decide a disputed decision. If there is a tied vote, the chair will have an additional deciding vote.

Public statements

What Member Group committee members say and publish (including on social media) should be appropriate for a representative of a professional body. Communicating on behalf of any part of the Institute (including a Member Group) should only be done with appropriate authority. Criticism of the Institute should be kept out of public forums.


BCS staff and Member Group Committee members are expected to respect each other and behave in a positive, cooperative and professional manner. If a BCS member has a concern about the behaviour of another member or member of staff they should discuss it with the Chair of the Community Board. Ultimately the BCS Code of Conduct is applicable. 


Each Member Group Committee will be responsible for ensuring that all its members receive appropriate training as prescribed by Trustee Board from time to time. The Community Board may cancel or suspend an individual's membership of a Member Group Committee where a member’s actions have, in the opinion of the Community Board, been detrimental to the work of the Committee.

Use of data about members

Member Groups’ membership details are kept on BCS's central database and Member Groups can arrange for mailings to their members via the BCS List Server.

All member data must be handled in strict accordance with the BCS information security policy statement. Only Committee members who are professional members (MBCS/FBCS) of BCS may have access to BCS membership data, via the List Server subject to:

  • An explanation of why access is necessary that is acceptable to the Member Group committee (i.e. no one has vetoed it)
  • Confirmation that the person requesting access understands the Data Protection Act.
  • Requests to use membership details should be sent to the Member Groups Team at groups@bcs.uk

Where personal data about attendees is collected at, or for, an event it should not be passed on without the attendee’s approval. For example, if the speaker wishes to follow up with those attending they should get permission from those attending for them to do so.

All Member Group committee members must declare any conflict of interest that may arise and inform all other committee members who will consider whether any action needs to be taken. The BCS Code of Conduct will be used if a potential conflict of interest comes to light. Non-members of the Institute are liable to sanctions including having their committee membership terminated. 

Additional guidance on the treatment of Personal Data from members and attendees at events

When collecting, using and securing items of personal data from members and/or event attendees/enquirers, two overriding principles must be applied:

  • the data must be used only for the purpose(s) that were declared prior to its collection / elicitation;
  • it is BCS policy that all data collected through an event booking/registration system (manual or electronic, central or local) shall be regarded as protected personal data unless otherwise declared to attendees/enquirers in advance (and effective opt-outs provided if necessary).

Particular care needs to be taken in circumstances when any of the attendees’ data may need to be shared with third parties, including: joint meetings;, sponsored events (especially if hosted on the sponsor’s premises); if it is intend to publish a delegates list; if it is intended to use the data to advertise other events or promotions; or for a speaker / sponsor to supply supplementary information.

Key documents

Member Group websites

A website is the primary means for BCS members and non-members to learn more about the role of a member group, its committee members, minutes of meetings held by the committee, and events planned and delivered by the group.

The website should contain:

  • The group’s aims and objectives
  • The group's name, scope, geographic boundaries (where applicable), aims and objectives
  • Instructions on how to join the group
  • A reference to the Member Group rules
  • A full list of committee members
  • Details of future events with agenda, abstracts, location and joining instructions etc. A template for a suitable event flyer is available.
  • Reports of past events with event flyer, minutes, slides, summaries or full texts of presentations etc.
  • A link to your BCS Community member group area and any social media
  • Links to other BCS groups associated by geographical or technical proximity
  • A link to the main BCS website

Support to create and maintain a member group web site is available from your BCS Community Coordinator. Member group websites are hosted by bcs.org and ensure the member group maintains a professional and positive reputational image. Webpages should conform to the BCS brand guidelines.

Where a Member Group has been established as a joint venture with another body - branding implications, including the website, need to be agreed. The group may include URL links to the websites of those third party bodies on their group’s website.

Website changes

If you require changes to your website, please email your BCS Coordinator at groups@bcs.uk.

Target: 700 new members

New members joined 0- 700