Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

Memoranda of Understanding

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An Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will typically be used in the not-for-profit sector when organisations wish to co-operate or share information with each other, allowing each to make the most of the other's specialist skills or knowledge. 

Before reading on, make sure you read our guide to working with other organisations, which you can download from our Working with Others webpage. 
An MOU will typically establish a framework for the collaboration between the organisations and express the common goals or vision of the parties to the MOU. In general, an MOU will not deal with the specific details of particular projects.  An MOU is therefore usually more of a 'high level' agreement.
An MOU is generally considered ‘an agreement to agree’ or an agreement to enter into a more specific and comprehensive contract or agreement at a later time after further negotiations. However, this is not always the case. To help avoid any uncertainty about whether an MOU is legally binding, your organisation should make sure the MOU contains a specific statement to the effect that it is not intended to create legally binding obligations. If you need to rely on the other organisation taking certain actions or if your organisation stands to lose money if the other party doesn’t act – your organisation should enter into a contractual arrangement. 

The information on this website is intended as a guide only, and is not legal advice. If you or your organisation has a specific legal issue, you should seek advice before making a decision about what to do.

More detailed information is contained in our fact sheet below regarding:

  • what is an MOU and when should an MOU be used?
  • what issues will an MOU cover?
  • what are your obligations under an MOU? 
  • is an MOU a legally binding document – like a contract?
  • can you have an MOU that is part binding?

Template MOU

Many community organisations require an MOU to formalise working together or other joint objectives.

This base template provides an example of the way an MOU can be set out and the types of details it may include. 

Related resources

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Last Updated: 05 November 2021

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