The role of the steering group is to manage the start up process, assisted by a development officer. They will prepare any bid for funds, and act as a 'shadow' for the final Board of the Trust. While in the early days everyone concerned may well take on some tasks, there are advantages in making explicit the split between policy makers and those carrying out day to day tasks. This is the split betgween Governance and Management, Board and staff. The composition of a steering group will obviously depend on who acts as the initial champion of a Trust. If community interests are promoting the idea of a Trust, they will need to broaden the base of their support. If a Trust is sponsored 'top down' the initial group may be officials, but they should rapidly move to the role of advisers. They will not, generally, be Board members and the longer they take a central role the less likely others are to take ownership of the Trust idea. Useful qualities in members of the group are:
Consultants and potential employees of the Trust should not be members of the steering group, but rather act as advisers. This establishes the division between policy and implementation which will operate when the Trust is established with Board and staff.
A core of a steering group may form readily from those keen to see a Trust established. However, they may not be representative of the mix of public, private and community interests which should eventually make up the Board. One way of recruiting more steering group members is by running workshops during the start up process to brainstorm and prioritise ideas for Trust projects. After a few workshop meetings it should be possible to identify people who are keen to be centrally involved with the emerging Trust. It may be appropriate to run a seminar for all those involved in the workshops so that a steering group can be formally appointed. If this is done the steering group may legitimately become the first Board of the Trust, and put themselves up for election at the first Annual General Meeting. The steering group must manage all aspects of the start up process, which are outlined in the checklist below.
Among the main tasks and decisions for a steering group are:
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