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.

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:

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:

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.

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:


© 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