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Guidelines and principles

Early in the start up process for a Trust the initial champion and/or the steering group should agree a set of policy guidelines and principles of good practice. These will cover both the nature of the Trust envisaged, and also the way the setting up process should be conducted in order to achieve that. For many people guidelines and principles may seem a rather abstract idea at the outset - yet they represent the issues which may later cause dissent unless they are discussed and a consensus reached. One way of prompting early discussions is to include a discussion of 'style' in the workshops organised to brainstorm project ideas. Ask people how they would like the Trust to operate and be seen. You may find that sponsors or funders of the Trust have some requirements which they may express as guidelines. Some examples of guidelines are given below with the actions which flow from them . Not all principles and actions are compatible and it is important to identify which are the over-arching principles. Review the options below, but also develop your own.

Start up process

To be clear on where you are going…

  • Ensure the initial champion makes clear statements to promote discussion
  • Run strategy workshops for the steering group
  • Use effective communication materials

To make rapid progress…

  • Develop a process action plan
  • Appoint a development officer
  • Ensure adequate setting up resources
  • Establish roles clearly

To gain local support…

  • Spend time on informal networking
  • Run open workshops
  • Recruit a credible steering group

Structure of the Trust

To represent the whole community…

  • Ensure broad Board representation - public, private and residential community - with election and rotation specified in the constitution
  • Provide for open membership of the Trust in the constitution
  • Make staff and sub-committees accountable to the Board
  • Disseminate information widely and provide consultation mechanisms

To ensure the Trust is locally 'owned'…

  • Establish a representative steering group during the setting up process
  • Hold workshops during the process
  • Hold a seminar to give assent to setting up the Trust
  • Ensure project plans are developed by those who will implement them
  • Provide support and training to increase competence and control of those involved

To create a committed Board…

  • Involve steering group/Board members in the setting up process and/or recruit them from the process.
  • Provide induction and subsequent training
  • Take Board project suggestions seriously
  • Give Board members 'ownership' of projects
  • Run social events and creative or strategy sessions outside formal meetings
  • Make clear ultimate responsibility lies with the Board - not staff


To sustain the Trust in the longer term…

  • Treat the Trust as a business, which also has social objectives, from the outset
  • Create asset(s) which generate income
  • Develop projects which are net earners as well as projects which are spenders
  • Establish long term agreements with core funders
  • Recruit private sector skills to the Board and staff
  • Set up appropriate financial and administrative systems at the outset
  • Embody the above in the Trust's business plan

To reduce dependence on grants…

  • Identify a clear business niche for the Trust
  • Do not take on loss-making projects
  • Develop a contractual relationship with potential funders, offering products or services, rather than one based on grant

Style of operation

To be a business-like Trust…

  • Start as you mean to go on with a well planned setting up process
  • Recruit appropriate skills to the Board
  • Recruit high calibre staff
  • Provide training for Board and staff
  • Treat projects as products or services

To create an enabling Trust…

  • Ensure there are listening and facilitating skills in Board and staff
  • Avoid duplicating the work of others
  • Encourage others to lead on projects

To concentrate on a 'do-it' role …

  • Ensure project identification and delivery skills on Board and staff
  • Identify opportunities for Trust to take the lead


To focus on funder-determined projects…

  • Establish criteria for projects and publicise
  • Undertake appropriate feasibility studies before proceeding
  • Review terms of core funding for possible conflicts

To meet community needs… As above, plus:

  • Develop project proposals through both survey and workshops
  • Be open to suggestions from local groups and individuals
  • Ensure that you will be able to fund loss-making projects


In developing your own set of guidelines and principles, consider:

  • what values and principles you would like the organisation to demonstrate
  • whether both you and others involved will be comfortable with these values
  • what outcomes are most important - that is, howthe Trust will be judged
  • what is likely to be important to other interests
  • how things are usually done in the area, and the effect of your style and actions of other local interests
  • what scale of operation is likely to be appropriate
  • what resources of people and finance are likely to be available

© David Wilcox 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/princ.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)