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partnerships:azp:feas

Feasibility study

One way to plan the start up process and resolve many of the issues is to carry out - or commission - a formal feasibility study. This may well be appropriate when creation of a trust depends on making a bid to one or more funders. This sheet consequently describes a 'top down' process. Each situation will be different, but here are some guidelines which should help ensure the feasibility work leads to a well structured bid.

Summary

The eventual feasibility of a Development Trust depends on a number of key factors which correspond to areas of good practice or competence.

  • A well-conceived start up process involving key interests in developing a bid to funders based on an outline business plan.
  • Recruiting high-calibre people from public, private and voluntary sectors for the Board to develop a shared mission. They will be responsible for the governance of the Trust.
  • Establishing sound management practices
  • Making communications a two-way process - both presenting ideas well, and listening to others
  • Planning for financial sustainability from the start
  • Following sound project management practices

The Competence summary sheet, and other main competence sheets, provide more detailed checklists. Any feasibility work should, therefore, aim to answer the question: How can we create a competent Development Trust? From the above it should be clear that feasibility is more than a question of identifying project opportunities and funding sources. It also involves finding people with commitment and skills, and ways of working with existing organisations. This means that establishing whether a Trust is feasible or not is a process with a number of strands - not a snapshot technical study. The main strands are:

  • Understanding what funders may offer
  • Developing and discussing a concept, or vision, of what the Trust may be like with a number of interests
  • A local audit, or appraisal, of the problems and opportunities in an area, who is doing what, and the resources that may be available
  • Identifying possible projects - some of which will earn income for the Trust
  • Recruiting key interests who may sponsor, support, or play a part in the Trust
  • Testing different packages of projects, staffing and funding which may form the basis of the bid.

The elements of the feasibility study

These strands of work are set out below in more detail. They relate to the early stages described in the Start Up summary sheet.

Understanding what is on offer

Funders who may be inviting a bid will brief the 'champions' who want to promote a Development Trust on what they can offer, and what is expected. These terms may well be formalised in some form of agreement.

The initial concept or vision

After one or more meetings with funders the initial champions will develop their first concept or vision of what a local Development Trust might be like, and discuss that informally with those who may be sponsors. A development officer should be appointed to carry through the next stages of the process.

The local audit

The development officer, perhaps working with a consultant, should:

  • Understand the boundaries of possible Development Trust activity: what may be funded, what is realistic, what performance measures are used.
  • Identify the main problems and opportunities in the area which will establish the need for a Development Trust.
  • Identify projects or programme areas which could meet these needs, and would be appropriate to the work programme of the Trust whether it is directly implementing or playing some other role.
  • Review what other organisations are working in the area, and consider how the Trust could complement their activities and work in partnership with them.
  • Identify what support may lie in the public, private or voluntary sectors in terms of funding and participation in the Trust.

People and project

Some project opportunities may be obvious - and so may some supporters. However, the key to a successful Trust often lies in linking projects and people. On the one hand projects are more like to be supported if they are 'owned' by key interests. On the other hand one of the easiest ways to recruit people is to offer them a way of following their enthusiasms. The way to make the link is a three-stage process.

  • Networking: making informal contact with a range of interests identified in your audit, one contact often leading to another.
  • Workshops: running informal sessions at which your contacts can brainstorm project ideas and reach a consensus on priorities
  • Feedback: presenting the results of the workshops and any subsequent research back to participants.

It is often most productive to run separate workshops or presentations with public, private and voluntary interests to see how far their 'pictures of the future' differ or overlap, then bring those interested together at a seminar. It may be appropriate to produce some simple leaflets or newsletters during the process to keep people informed and motivated.

Preparing the bid or proposal

The proposal or bid for funding should be developed as a draft business plan. See the information sheet on this in the Management section.

Checklist

In undertaking a feasibility assessment, consider:

  • whether you understand from the outset what funders offers, and what may be expected.
  • who you should talk to informally before starting the process
  • what skills and funds you will need for the feasibility process
  • whether you will be able to find a development officer within your own organisation
  • which local organisations might host workshops and presentations
  • at what stage it will be appropriate to form a steering group
  • how you will communicate with people during the feasibility assessment
  • whether there are any fixed points which should influence the timetable

© David Wilcox david@partnerships.org.uk. 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

partnerships/azp/feas.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)