The way that a steering group or Trust run events and formal and informal meetings will be fundamental to its success. Events can either be important milestones in gaining commitment and making decisions, or frustrating and counter-productive. It is possible to identify at least five different purposes for an event or meeting:
Although some of these purposes may overlap, each requires a different style. What's crucially important is to ensure that everyone concerned is clear about the purpose of the meeting and their role in it. Difficulties arise if participants think that they have been invited to a meeting to make a decision when, for example, the steering group or Trust is seeking views.
The key to successful events and meetings is good planning. Consider:
During the start up process the steering group will need to run the following meetings or events:
It may be productive for the steering group to run three types of meeting for itself:
The steering group should at some stage take a day or more together to work through issues, preferably away from base. If possible make this an overnight stay so that people can get to know each other informally. Consider using a facilitator to plan and run the event.
The start up process set out in this toolkit depends in part on running creative sessions for different interest groups at which they can put forward ideas for projects and the principles on which the Trust should be run. These are not formal committee-style meetings, but events at which people work in groups and have more of a chance to have their say. It is essential that the development officer or some other person acts as facilitator.
One or more seminars are suggested in the start up process. Early in the process it may be helpful to run a seminar for potential steering group members and supporters to outline what a Development Trust is, what help may be available from the funders, and what is involved in the start up process. Later it will be important to run a seminar at which those who have been to workshops and other meetings receive a report back, and receive a presentation on the proposed bid which they can then, hopefully, endorse. In general avoid large conventional public meetings with a platform for the steering group and rows of chairs. They are ideal for confrontation and the self-confident speaker; extremely poor for giving everyone a chance to have a say and reaching consensus. Instead make a presentation, split people into groups with discussion tasks, and then have a report back session.
At various points during the start up process it will be necessary for the steering group and development officer to present plans for the Trust formally to potential funders and supporters. Presentations serve a number of purposes:
As with all events, plan presentations carefully. If possible do a 'dry-run' with someone outside your immediate group. Use a flip chart or overhead projector to make the presentation, with notes as back-up. Not only will it be far clearer, it will force you to organise your thoughts in a logical sequence, and to be brief.
It is important to create opportunities for people to meet informally, particularly since people will be coming from different interest groups and may not have met before. © David Wilcox email@example.com. Tel +44 (0)1273 677377. Fax: +44 (0)1273 677379. These information sheets may be freely distributed with this attribution, but not republished as a whole. Partnerships Online : The Guide to Development Trusts and Partnerships: other sheets