This Guide to Development Trusts and Partnerships was published early in 1998 and is based on consultancy and training work in the UK over the past 20 years, carried out by David Wilcox <firstname.lastname@example.org> and colleagues in Partnership Ltd.
The Guide aims to cover two overlapping areas of interest: the nature and creation of Development Trusts, and more general issues of developing partnerships, of which Development Trusts are one model. It includes:
This Guide is available at http://www.partnerships.org.uk/pguide
Information sheets to accompany the guide are are http://www.partnerships.org.uk/pguide/sheets.htm
See also the Guide to Effective Participation at http://www.partnerships.org.uk/part
© David Wilcox email@example.com. http://www.partnerships.org.uk/ Tel +44 (0)20 7600 0104 . Fax: +44 (0)20 7600 0133.
This Guide is intended for anyone interested in how our towns, cities and villages may be regenerated through the involvement of those with the greatest stake in their future - the people who live and work there.
It is particularly intended for anyone considering the creation of a Community Development Trust or similar partnership organisation.
You may be a member of a community group seeking to make some permanent improvements to your neighbourhood, or a council member or officer looking for ways to turn short-term Government funding programmes into a longer term investment for the community.
Or you may be a company executive who believes that business thrives best when it has a stake in the area from which it operates, and that a trust may be a way of levering additional sources of funds for the area.
Hopefully all these interests will find the Guide useful - because they are all potential partners in any successful trust.
The Guide builds on ideas first set out in 'Creating Development Trusts', a set of case studies and good practice guidelines produced for the Department of the Environment in 1988.
Since then practitioners running trusts have formed the Development Trusts Association - http://www.dta.org.uk - and Government has provided strong official backing for partnership bodies.
The idea of community participation and partnership enjoys cross party and cross sector support - although reality does not always match rhetoric.
The strength of Development Trusts is that they can demonstrate the creativity and added competence that comes from bringing together expertise and enthusiasm from public, private, voluntary and community sectors.
Many trusts are also showing how it is possible for these partnerships to be sustainable - and promote sustainability - by using the resources they gain to develop local people, buildings and other facilities in their community.
Development trusts are a particular type of partnership organisation - one that offers benefits to the local community and has advantages for many public bodies, non-profit agencies and funders.
The Development Trusts Association estimates that there are well in excess of 150 Development Trusts in England and Wales, with many similar organisations in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland.
While there is no one model for Development Trusts, they do have common characteristics of being concerned with the regeneration of an area, not for private gain, aiming for long term sustainability, and community based and accountable. Their structure is explored in more detail later.
Trusts offer considerable benefits. However, for trusts to be successful, they require a well planned start up process and considerable support during their early years. These issues are dealt with in the sections on Creating a Development Trust and Stages in the Start up Process.
The Development Trusts Association, in its introduction to trusts, says:
'Because they respond to local needs no two Development Trusts are alike, and because they recognise that to regenerate a community means adopting a comprehensive approach they are involved in a wide range of activities.'
Trusts are engaged in a wide range of economic, social and environmental regenereation, ranging from the development and restoration of property to advice and training. For example:
Many develop a land or property base which can earn them income. Some specialise and others are diversifying. But all are providing local solutions to local need. They have proven themselves to be innovative, responsive, business-like, professional and effective.
Development trusts are a relatively new phenomena, and have grown over the past 20 years under many different influences and inspirations. They have placed more emphasis on economic development than many organisations in the traditional voluntary sector concerned with social welfare.
Some trusts were created in the 1970s by activists who turned from campaigning to the creation of assets for their communities. Their later growth was in line with moves in the voluntary sector from volunteering to the appointment of professional staff, and the shift from grants to contracts.
By the 1980s Government was taking an interest, and supporting the development of partnership models like Groundwork. By the 1990s Development Trusts and similar partnerships were an essential component of urban and rural regeneration programmes.
At their best, trusts can draw support from a wide range of interests - the community and voluntary sectors, private and public bodies. They offer one means by which short-term funding, which is a feature of regeneration programmes, can be used to create a longer-term asset. There are now over 150 trusts in England and Wales, several in Northern Ireland, and a number of different trust models developing in Scotland.
An early study of Development Trusts carried out for the Department of the Environment (Creating Development Trusts, 1988), concluded that the value of trusts lay both in what they do - the outputs - and in the way that they do it - operations. The study concluded:
Government policy now clearly recognises and supports the principles on which Development Trusts are based and the role which they can play in regenerating communities. City Challenge Companies, Single Regeneration Partnerships, Housing Action Trusts, Rural Challenge Partnerships and other such initiatives, along with local authorities, now explicitly encourage community action and the long term, local approach to regeneration which Development Trusts embody.
Many such initiatives see Development Trusts as forming at least a part, if not the core, of their 'forward strategies' - that is their plans for continuing development when they have ceased to operate.
The Borrie Commission on Social Justice concluded:
'The focus of a new, bottom-up regeneration strategy should be Community Development Trusts, established in the most disadvantaged areas to bring together residents, voluntary organisations, religious and other groups, and local authority councillors and officers.'
'The establishment of the Development Trusts Association in 1993 provides an opportunity to extend the work of the hundred Development Trusts which already exist in the UK.'
While there is no one model for trusts, there are now a large number of organisation who see themselves as trusts with a common set of characteristics. The Development Trusts Association says:
'Development trusts are enterprises with social objectives which are actively engaged in the regeneration of an area - a valley, a housing estate, a town centre or a wasteland - whilst ensuring that the benefits are returned to the community.
'They may vary in their location, their priorities, their origins and even in their names - for example Amenity Trust, Environment Trust or Community Development Company - but all share or aspire to a number of basic principles:
'They are demonstrating that local people can shape the future of their communities in ways that are sustainable, innovative and entrepreneurial. In short they ensure that the process of regeneration works.'
There is no one model for trusts, but there are some common elements to both the legal and management structures of most trusts.
The legal structure of Development Trusts is most frequently that of a company limited by guarantee. That is one which has members instead of shareholders, and which does not distribute any surpluses as profits, but instead re-uses them.
Because the activities of trusts are frequently charitable, many trusts apply for charitable status - so that they are operating through a charitable company. This provides some tax advantages, a public identity which assures their probity, and also enables the trust to apply to charitable foundations for funding.
However, since trusts also aim to earn income through trading activities, and there may be limits on what they can do as a charity, they frequently set up subsidiary trading companies which can covenant profits back to the main charitable company.
The constitution of company is known as its memorandum and articles of association, and it is that which sets out the objects, powers and control.
A company limited by guarantee has as its management committee a Board of directors, who must operate under company law. They are usually unpaid, and must certainly derive no personal benefit if the company is also a charity.
The members of the company (equivalent to shareholders) will have powers defined by the memorandum and articles. They may be individuals or organisations, and may be given powers to elect or appoint directors - the legal structure is very flexible.
The Board are the governing body, responsible for policy, but not day to day management. That is carried out by the paid staff, headed by an executive director or chief executive.
The Board can appoint various
sub-committees and working groups with delegated authority.
The term 'partnership' is now widely used where more than one organisation or interest is involved in a regeneration programme. It may be too widely applied to situations where one powerful organisation is doing no more than consult with others, or mask fundamental differences of approach and objectives that will later lead to conflict. Building Effective Local Partnerships offers as a definition:
'A partnership is an agreement between two or more partners to work together to achieve common aims'.
This section deals with:
The following factors for success emerge from surveys of partnerships, and workshops of practitioners involved in creating and running partnerships:
The following are characteristics of failed attempts at partnership, or warnings that something is going wrong:
Sources: Building Effective Local Partnerships, The Partnerships Handbook http://ag.arizona.edu/partners/
It may be easier to develop an appropriate approach to partnership if you have a simple theoretical framework for thinking about the wider issues of participation.
Sherry Arnstein, writing in 1969 about citizen involvement in planning processes in the United States, described a ladder of participation.
1 Manipulation and 2 Therapy. Both are non participative. The aim is to cure or educate the participants. The proposed plan is best and the job of participation is to achieve public support by public relations.
3 Informing. A most important first step to legitimate participation. But too frequently the emphasis is on a one way flow of information. No channel for feedback.
4 Consultation. Again a legitimate step - attitude surveys, neighbourhood meetings and public enquiries. But Arnstein still feels this is just a window dressing ritual.
5 Placation. For example, co-option of hand-picked 'worthies' onto committees. It allows citizens to advise or plan ad infinitum but retains for power holders the right to judge the legitimacy or feasibility of the advice.
6 Partnership. Power is in fact redistributed through negotiation between citizens and power holders. Planning and decision-making responsibilities are shared e.g. through joint committees.
7 Delegated power. Citizens holding a clear majority of seats on committees with delegated powers to make decisions. Public now has the power to assure accountability of the programme to them.
8 Citizen Control. Have-nots handle the entire job of planning, policy making and managing a programme e.g. neighbourhood corporation with no intermediaries between it and the source of funds.
Arnstein's ladder of participation suggests some levels are better than others. I think it is more of a case of horses for courses - different levels are appropriate in different circumstances.
The key issue is what 'stance' you take if you are an organisation initiating or managing a process of participation or partnership building.
I suggest thinking of five levels - or stances - which offer increasing degrees of control to the others involved.
Information: The least you can do is tell people what is planned.
Consultation: You identify the problems, offer a number of options, and listen to the feedback you get.
Deciding together: You encourage others to provide some additional ideas and options, and join in deciding the best way forward.
Acting together: Not only do different interests decide together what is best, but they form a partnership to carry it out.
Supporting independent community initiatives: You help others do what they want - perhaps within a framework of grants, advice and support provided by the resource holder.
The 'lower' levels of participation keep control with the initiator - but they lead to less commitment from others. Partnership operates at the levels of Deciding Together and Acting Together.
Information is essential for all participation - but is not participatory in itself.
When local authorities, private sector bodies, and indeed voluntary organisations, are faced with tight timetables and firm guidelines it is difficult to think through the complexities for participation and partnership. There is a strong temptation to go for a quick fix and hope to sort things out later. Here are a few health warnings on different forms of partnership.
A forum may seem an easy way to get a wide range of interests together and act as a sounding board, but should it be labelled a partnership? For example:
Rather than putting all interests together, give them each a forum. But then:
Instead of creating more organisations, give community representatives seats on the decision-making bodies. However:
Development trusts are non-profit-distributing companies, which may seek charitable status. They have their own staff and are governed by a Board including a range of interests. They are described in more detail elsewhere in this guide - but they may not always be the most appropriate form of partnership. Consider:
A steering group would have more say than a forum, but not control resources like a Development Trust. It may seem a reasonable compromise, but consider:
Instead of relying solely on formal structures, using workshop techniques allows participation to be taken to residents and others. Planning for Real is one powerful technique which allows participants to build models of the neighbourhoods they want, and develop action plans. It provides more active involvement than public meetings or fora. However:
Dress up funding bids with token representation, then bring people on board when the money is there. This may be convenient for the bidding body - however:
Here are some guidelines which may offer you a way of deciding what sort of partnership you may wish to create, and how to make a start.
There are two sets of inter-twined issues in creating a Development Trust:
Development trusts are different from most small businesses: they are not owned by any set of individuals, and do not distribute any profits. They do, however, have to find ways of constantly raising funds and earning money, because unlike public bodies they have no direct access to taxes. And while grants may be available, few funding regimes stretch for more than a few years.
This means that while 'community benefit' may be the vision which engages people's commitment, those creating and running a trust have to set up all the administrative systems of a business, follow all the legal requirements of as company, and be just as enterprising as any entrepreneur.
This means that before creating a trusts, those involved should consider:
There may be a number of reasons local interests start to think about a development trust:
Each may be right. What is important is that each understands the 'agenda' of the other - and that these agendas can be fulfilled.
However, before starting the process of creating a trust it is important to ask whether an existing organisation does the job, or some other arrangement would work.
The advantages and disadvantages in creating a trust depend on where you stand and who you are - for example, within a council or quango considering sponsoring a trust, as a funder, or in a local group or voluntary organisation.
From the community-level perspective, the advantages could be some or all of those perceived by the sponsor, plus:
Community developments, described in this guide, are organisations which have some degree of community management and involvement. They are not simply devices for developing projects without regard to the interests and needs of local people.
Community involvement means more than one or two token representatives on the Board. While this may be desirable, it is easy for those individuals to become isolated from local interests.
During the start up process, and later, a Development Trust will have to develop a range of methods for informing and involving people. These may range from publicity materials through formal and informal events to the use of techniques like Planning for Real.
Involvement leads to ownership and commitment - which is essential if a trust is to draw on the enthusiasm and support of its community, whether residents or businesses.
See Community involvement, Events, Participation, Planning for Real, Workshops in the A-Z.
The success factors for trusts are similar to those for partnerships in general. The Development Trusts Association lists as key factors:
The later section on the stages in the start up process sets out how to build these factors into your development strategy.
Again, the failures of trusts usually reflect those of partnerships described earlier. In trusts, failures will stem partly from unclear objectives and poor relationships, and partly from the difficulties of running a non-profit business. For example:
Since the start up process can be a long haul, with many different tasks to perform, adequate resources are necessary - people to do the work and budgets.
The start up process can easily require the equivalent of two or three days a week from someone at peak time, and cost £15-20,000. Budgets will be needed for:
Trusts are not magical devices for solving the problems which afflict all organisations with a social purpose - how to find the funds to develop projects, provide services, and also keep essential staff employed.
In their early years trusts will certainly need some core funding to cover staffing and overhead costs which may well by over £100,000. Difficulties arise when funders withdraw or taper off these funds, as is almost inevitable.
Trusts do have advantages in facing this problem. They are good vehicles for packaging funds and help in kind from different sources: grants, charitable donations, sponsorship, secondments, volunteer commitment. This enables them to continue to develop innovative projects.
They can also earn income from their activities, and use this to cover some staff costs.
The difficulty for trusts is that because they are fulfilling a social purpose many of their activities are unprofitable, and however successful they are in their day to day trading this is unlikely to yield sufficient surpluses to cover their costs. The business plan for a trust is a balancing act between core costs, some core funding and a portfolio of projects.
One solution is for the trust to develop an asset base - some land or a building which can be let to yield income. Many trusts see their hopes of future sustainability in their ability to create this asset base with the help of a local authority or partnership prepared to provide an endowment to them.
Some are also looking to the example of fund-raising and grant-making community trusts, which aim to build up an administrative endowment fund to cover their core costs. However, the capital sums involved for a Development Trust to do that are considerable.
Setting up a Development Trust is a complex process likely to take a year and involve the very different complexities of creating both a successful small business and establishing a voluntary body.
The process does not fall neatly into stages - and it won't 'run on rails.' There will be false starts and diversions, conflicts and compromises as well as moments of creativity and celebration.
The process is complex because it involves creating a structure which works for the people involved and delivers project, while drawing in funds and help from many sources. It involves much more than buying a company off the shelf, changing the name, and getting started. This section describes the process in general - there is also a section on the stages in more detail.
Development trusts may be started 'bottom-up' by local groups or individuals, or 'top-down' through the support of a public or private sponsor. Whatever the starting point, an effective trust must deal with a number of tensions:
Unless these issues are addressed in the setting up process the trust may spend many years dealing with internal conflict or facing criticism from local people and groups who resent the new-comer.
The process described here is designed to bind together the 'hard-edged' tasks of incorporation, business planning and project development with 'softer' issues of team building and community involvement.
The three main building blocks in the process, bringing together the different strands, are:
Communication and commitment. This may start with a few conversations of enthusiasts, then move through the formal and informal processes of workshops and presentations, newsletters and exhibitions to a formal launch.
Planning and projects. Mapping out the process, deciding what the trust will do, and developing a business plan which will ensure the trust is financially sustainable in the long term.
Structure and staffing. Building the organisation, creating the systems, recruiting the Board and staff, and training them.
While bearing in mind that the start up process isn't completely linear, it may be useful to divide it into four stages:
Getting started and planning the process. Finding out whether a trust is appropriate, and what is involved.
Building the partnership. Gaining the commitment of other by giving them some ownership of the projects the trust will carry out and forming the steering group which will shadow the Board.
Developing proposals. Turning research, project ideas and funding opportunities into a bid for resources.
Forming the trust. Creating the formal structure, recruiting staff and Board, setting up systems.
When starting the setting up process consider:
While bearing in mind that the start up process isn't completely linear, it may be useful to divide it into four stages:
These are dealt with in more detail
Overall the process is likely to take up to a year. The main milestones are:
During the setting up process you will need to find cash or help in kind to cover:
Accountability has three main meanings for partnerships:
It is often easier to clarify the first than the second and third, because funders and sponsors set targets and measures of outputs they require for their money.
Accountability within a partnership organisation may be difficult if staff have different employers, the steering group or management committee is not formally constituted, and there are a number of less formal working groups. To clarify internal accountability consider:
If these questions give different answers, expect problems.
Accountability of a partnership to the wider community is even more difficult to define. Is it best done by formal representation, or the way a partnership operates?
Participants in a workshop at the Development Trusts Association annual conference in 1995 concluded 'Accountability is much wider than the need to account for the use of resources. It requires a need to be seen to listen and respond to local issues and concerns, to be open and receptive to ideas and criticism. Structures for Development Trusts needed to be able to accommodate this - through both policy and membership arrangements where possible.'
See also Control, Representation, Terms of reference
The process of setting up partnerships is complex, with seemingly endless lists of things to do. Action plans answer questions of: what do we do next? who does it? with what resources? Action plans may be complex plans covering a year or more, or the outcome of a decision-making meeting covering the next few weeks. Action minutes after meetings should ensure something happens, and clarify accountability.
See also Workload planning.
Action Deadline Responsibility Accountability Resources 1st task By when? By whom? For whom? Money, skills? 2nd task By when? By whom? For whom? Money, skills?
If you are creating any partnership structure you will need an administrative system which will involve some or all of the following:
Later you will need more complex administrative and financial systems to run the partnership, comparable with any small business or effective public or voluntary body. Systems should established early, and be under the control of those creating or running the partnership.
It is tempting to offload responsibility if some other body offers to take responsibility for admin or book-keeping, but a mistake.
Agendas ensure there is an agreed plan for a meeting. Hidden agendas ensure it is impossible to plan anything. If different interests in a partnership are seeking different outcomes, and not declaring them, the result is likely to be frustration and growing mistrust. Challenge by asking: 'What are we trying to achieve?'
See also Outcomes, Team building, Vision.
Aims are a written description of what a group or organisation is trying to achieve, and the objectives are the methods by which they may do that. The different interests in a partnership will all have their own aims and objectives &endash; so focus on where these overlap.
Aims and objectives will be incorporated in the objects clause of the constitution.
See also Agendas, Mission, Outcomes, Purpose, Vision.
In the early days of forming a partnership you will need allies &endash; people who:
See also Community.
Partnership organisations like Development Trusts are engaged in activities which are unprofitable and for social benefit. If all their projects made money they could be carried out by commercial enterprises.
In the early days these unprofitable activities may be paid for from core funding or projects grants, but this funding inevitably declines. One way to cover these long term costs is by vesting the Trust with an asset &endash; some land or buildings which can be let to generate revenue. Securing or creating these assets is one of the main concerns of trusts aiming for sustainability.
Organisations are generally created by one set of people to benefit another. In for-profit companies the main beneficiaries are likely to be shareholders, if the organisation is run well.
In non-profit partnerships, including Development Trusts, the beneficiaries are usually interests in the wider community.
One sure way to keep the organisation on track is to keep asking: Who is it for? What value are we providing? Representing beneficiaries is one of the key roles of the Board of a Trust.
Increasingly partnership organisations must make formal bids for resources, governed by strict guidelines. These bids may trigger the partnership-building process, influence the nature and style of the partnerships, as well as dictate funding. In preparing bids:
Development trusts and other partnerships are often incorporated as companies limited by guarantee. The management committee is then a Board of directors, with responsibilities in company law. If the Trust is registered as a charity, the Board are also Trustees, with additional responsibilities under charity law.
The Board should not see themselves simply as an advisory group for the staff, nor as just representing the interests of other organisations to which they may belong. They should be in charge of policy, and make key decisions in the development and running of the Trust.
See also Governance, charitable status, companies
A term frequently used to distinguish change or activity among community interests (bottom up) from that in government (top down). Development trusts and other partnerships may start either way. What is important for a successful partnership is that wherever the process starts it leads to clear, shared objectives, respect and trust between different interests, and compatible ways of working.
Brainstorming is defined as 'a means of getting a large number of ideas from a group of people in a short time'. It is one of the most widely used workshop techniques, and useful when partnerships are trying to shape their agenda and tackle problems creatively.
After you have defined the problem or question:
See also Charts, Workshops.
Development trusts are trying to do two things:
In order to achieve the first they need to do the second effectively &endash; so business management is a core competence.
Any Trust or other partnership organisation which aims to keep going in the long term needs a business or development plan. For a non-profit organisation the plan will balance the costs and income of three parts of its operation:
The business plan should cover at least three years and show how fund raising and any income earned from projects covers the core costs.
See also Companies, Constitution, Fundraising
In planning to create a Development Trust or other partnership organisation, reading case studies of other projects may give you ideas for your own, although similarities are often difficult to see unless the case study is 'unpacked' around key issues. One way to clarify what you are trying to achieve is to try and write a case study of your own project as it might appear in a few years time.
The success of a Development Trust depends substantially on the qualities of two key individuals &endash; the chair of the Board of directors, and the full-time executive director.
During the early stages of creating a partnership you will need some champions. These are people who believe in the idea, promote it to others, and stay with you during the sticky patches. If they have influence and ways they can offer direct help, so much the better. Look for champions in public, private and voluntary sectors, and in the local community, who will bring others with them.
See also Allies.
Partnerships usually involve change: seeing things from other people's point of view, respecting into other people's ways of doing things and changing your own. This can be threatening, but it can also be enormously creative. It can painful, but it can also be fun. Either way it takes time &endash; which is why creating partnerships should be seen as process, not a structural fix.
Most Development Trusts are charitable companies: non profit distributing companies whose objects enable them to apply for charitable status. The Board of directors are also trustees, and are unpaid. Any surpluses are retained within the company.
See also Board responsibilities, Company, Trust
A charity is not a particular form of organisation, different from a company or community group. Both may be charities, if they are accepted and registered as such by the Charity Commissioners. (In Scotland and Northern Ireland registration is directly with the Inland Revenue). To be registered as a charity an organisation must restrict its activities to one or more of the following objects:
Charitable status adds credibility to an organisation, provides some tax benefits, and enables it to apply to large charities for funding. In general charities can only make gifts to other charities. There are, however, restrictions on trading and members of any management committee have substantial additional responsibilities as trustees.
Development trusts and other partnerships may seek charitable status if their objects are charitable, they have an appropriate form, and are for wide public benefit.
Not all regeneration work is charitable, and anyone seeking to create a Development Trust with charitable status should consult a solicitor specialising in the field. In order to overcome these difficulties, some charitable Development Trusts set up subsidiary trading companies.
See also Charitable company, Legal issues. Tax. Trading companies.
These may be flip charts &endash; pads of large paper used with an easel &endash; or simply lining paper tacked to the wall. They are an essential tool of partnership-building, because they help you break out of committee mode. Committees need agendas and minutes &endash; workshops need charts. In using charts:
The centre line of partnership-building is gaining commitment. It depends on developing a shared vision, and some ownership of the ideas which are to be put into practice. That is best done by networking and running workshops to complement committee work and formal reports.
Committees of partnership organisations can pose particular problems because almost inevitably people come from different background, and probably haven't worked together before. In order to overcome this, run workshops and organise socials.
To improve your committee meetings, get members to agree to:
Partnerships depend on good communication &endash; both in the early stages when everyone has a different idea of what may be planned, and later when there are lots of projects and more people involved.
Effective communication involves considering how your message will be received as well as how you send it: the meaning of any communication lies in the response you get. Obvious barriers are:
Community is a term so widely applied that it is in danger of losing any meaning, like 'members of the public'. Aren't we all? At worst it may be used by officials to mean anyone who is not 'us' &endash; an undifferentiated mass of activists, organisations and uninvolved residents. Marilyn Taylor, in Signposts to Community Development, suggests it is more useful to think of a large number of over-lapping communities distinguished by the characteristics of their members, and the common interests which tie members together and give these characteristics a shared significance.
The characteristics might be, for example:
Common characteristics do not necessarily mean people identify with each other as a community. The factors which give these characteristics a shared meaning are a cultural heritage, social relationships, common economic interests, or the basis for political power. Communities may be short or long term.
Because individuals may belong to many different communities at the same time, different allegiances may people pull in different directions. There are likely to be competing and conflicting interests within communities.
One of the fundamental principles of Development Trusts is that they have some element of community control in their management structure, and that they operate for community benefit. However, partnership bodies can be just as inward looking and autocratic as larger bureaucracies. In planning community involvement:
Community profiling is a social, environmental and economic description of an area which is used to inform local decision-making. The pack produced by the School for Advanced Urban Studies offers a 10-step approach which deals with how to form a group to undertake the profile, gather and analyse data, present it, and use the results for planning action.
Community Trusts are sometime confused with Community Development Trusts. However, Community Trusts are independent fund-raising and grant-making charitable trusts. Like Development Trusts they serve a specific geographical area, but unlike them do not generally carry out projects. If there is one in your area, they may be a useful source of information about community needs in the area, and may support community initiatives. Community trusts raise funds from a wide range of sources, especially those previously untapped, with the aim of establishing an endowment fund. Interest from this large sum of capital is used for grant-making in the area. The Association for Community trusts and Foundations will provide more information.
A particular form of company, the company limited by guarantee, is increasingly popular as an organisational structure for larger community initiatives and partnerships. It is the most usual structure for Development trusts. Companies limited by guarantee do not have shareholders &endash; instead their members agree to pay a nominal sum, often only £1, if the company fails. The rights of these members to appoint members of the governing body &endash; the Board &endash; are defined by the constitution &endash; the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The company does not distribute surpluses as profits, but re-invests them in the company. If the members of the Board are unpaid, and the company has appropriate objects, it can seek charitable status. See Voluntary but Not Amateur, and Just About Managing? for more information on companies.
Successful Development Trusts display competence in five main areas: governance, management, communications, financial sustainability and project management.
A constitution sets out governing rules for an organisation. In the case of a company it is the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Constitutions are important at the beginning, when a body is being set up, and when there is an argument about control. Generally:
In my view consultants may be helpful for partnerships if:
It is a mistake to ask consultants to design partnership structures or programmes unless they work closely with all the key interests.
Development trusts may offer consultancy services in helping form new partnerships, and offer a wider range of consultancy services in order to generate revenue.
Control in partnerships tends to lie with those who have the money, skills and administration &endash; however well intentioned they may be in seeking to involve others. For that reason partnerships formed around existing organisations may seem very unequal to other participants.
Development Trusts aim to have some element of community control, usually through representation on their Board
One of the three main elements of the business plan of a Development Trust: the others are core funding and projects. Core costs will include staffing, training, premises and other overheads. With a staff of three or four these costs will be in excess of £100,000, unless some costs are covered indirectly through provision of help in kind and secondments.
In its early days a Development Trust will require core funding to cover some or all of its core costs &endash; that is, funding which is not directly linked to any one project. Funders generally expect to withdraw or taper funders after three to five years, so a Trust will need to earn income from projects to cover core costs.
See also Business planning.
Members of local authorities are essential allies in any partnership, and may be Board members of a Development Trust. Even if they do not play a formal part in Trust activities, it is important that they are fully briefed on its activities and the organisation as complementing rather than competing with their own role.
'Do local councillors see community based regeneration as a threat? Some do &endash; a lot do. To a certain extent this is a function of how they perceive power in their community and how jealously they guard that power. ' David Sparks, Association of Metropolitan Authorities, DTA conference 1995.
Incorporated partnerships like Development Trusts which aim to regenerate neighbourhoods may face challenges over their accountability to local people, and calls that their governing bodies &endash; the Board &endash; should be democratically elected.
Some trusts do hold elections, either within the community as a whole, or among local organisations. However, there may be tension between this desire for representation and the need to appoint Board members who have the confidence and competence to run a company, and possibly also act as trustees.
See also Accountability
The Development Trusts Association defines Development Trusts as:
Community based organisations working for the sustainable regeneration of their area through a mixture of economic, environmental and social initiatives. They are independent, not-for-profit bodies &endash; often registered charities &endash; which are committed to the involvement of local people in the process of regeneration and aim to be locally accountable in the work they do.
They should not be confused with Community Trusts which are local fund raising and grant-making bodies.
See also Community Trusts
The process of setting up a Development Trust may well take a year and involve the equivalent of several days work a week. If funds are available the steering group for the Trust should appoint a development officer to carry out this work. He or she may or may not eventually become the executive director of the Trust.
The term director may have two meanings in a Development Trust: first, a member of the Board who is a director under company law, and probably unpaid; second, the chief member of staff, perhaps termed the executive director. He or she will probably not be a member of the Board, and certainly cannot be if the Trust is a charity.
See also Governance, Management.
Who could possibly oppose a partnership dedicated to the regeneration of a local area, particularly if it has 'community' and 'Trust' in its title? Plenty of people, and sometime with good reason &endash; at least from their point of view. For example:
These fears can crystalise into powerful antagonisms unless potential enemies as well as allies &endash; all the stakeholders &endash; are involved in the process of creating a Trust. Criticisms and challenges can also be useful spurs to keep revisiting the fundamental question: who is it for?
Partnerships are built as much through the relationships of people as formal structures &endash; and the way to build relationships is by bringing people together. Events are the milestones in the process of creating a partnership &endash; whether formal events like steering group and Board meetings, presentations or launches, or informal events like breakfast briefings, lunches or socials.
Partnerships are created from interests who may have different styles and expectations, and in the early stages will usually benefit from having a facilitator to break the ice, make sure everyone has a chance to speak, focus discussion and help with problem solving.
It may be necessary to engage a professional facilitator or a trainer with these skills. If the facilitator is someone with specialist knowledge of Development Trusts, make sure he or she is clear at any point which 'hat' they are wearing &endash; specialist adviser or neutral adviser.
One way to plan the start up process for an incorporated partnership like a Development Trust, 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.
The eventual feasibility of a Development Trust depends on a number of key factors which correspond to areas of good practice or competence.
Any feasibility work should, therefore, aim to answer the question: How can we create a competent development Trust?
One of the key areas of management competence for Development Trusts, involving:
See also Asset base, Business management
Whatever you are planning to do five Ws provide a simple checklist to help you think of the issues:
H stands for How, which you need to consider after running through the Ws.
See also Action plans.
One of the strengths of development trusts &endash; if well conceived &endash; is their ability to raise funds and help in kind from different sources, and 'package' them to maintain the Trust and carry out projects. However, merely forming the Trust will not ensure that the funds flow. There is no special pot of gold for trusts.
In planning any fundraising consider:
One of the key areas of competence for a Development Trust, with particular relevance to the Board of directors. Governance covers maintaining a clear set of aims and objectives based on the beneficiaries, monitoring the performance of the Trust, appointing the executive director, and maintaining relationships with other partners.et.
Early in the formation of a partnership people may be unsure of how to conduct meetings, who is responsible for what, and how to relate to outside bodies. It is usually helpful &endash; perhaps with the aid of a facilitator &endash; to draw up a set of basic groundrules.
Having clearly set rules of operation will facilitate communication and give members trust in the partnership. It is preferable to put operating procedures in writing and have all members ratify them. Make sure that the rules and procedures developed by the group promote shared ownership in the process and its outcomes. Develop mechanisms that will include all stakeholders, not just recognized leaders.
Discuss and agree upon rules for the following topics:
From The Partnerships Handbook
Development trusts are organisations with a value base &endash; they are based on principles as well as guidelines for good practice. In order to create some 'fixes' in the process of creating a Trust, and to establish some of these values, it is important to define and agree guidelines and principles among the partners. They might include:
Working through the implications of these guidelines and principles will bring out some of the tensions trusts must deal with in being both a business and an agent of social change.
Corporate identity is the way everything about an organisation looks and sounds, from the letterhead to the way staff answer the telephone. It is an important issue for a partnership because:
Partnerships undertaking any significant activities should check their requirements for insurance. For example:
Consult another voluntary organisation or an insurance broker, and assign responsibility for maintaining cover. See the book Voluntary but not Amateur.
A launch can be useful both externally and internally:
It provides a formal start line if used at the beginning, when you can outline the overall process of creating the partnership.
Anyone setting up a Development Trust will need legal advice on a number of fronts: for example on the formal incorporation of the company, the liabilities of Board members, on contracts of employment and on leases.
All these areas are minefields for new organisation. They are particularly complex for charitable companies like Development Trusts. It is essential to take advice from a solicitor who specialises in the field.
Local authorities may offer the services of their legal departments, but this is not always the best route to go unless the officers involved have extensive experience with charitable companies, the time to carry out the work, and are acting independently of the other interests of the council (perhaps as funder or landowner).
The management committee is the governing body for a project or organisation, to which staff are accountable. In a company it is the Board of directors.
Development trusts, their Boards and staff, must be competent in the business, financial and staff management of their organisation. Terms like community, partnerships, Trust are beguiling &endash; it is easy to forget that they are no substitute for sound management. See each of these topics for further discussion, and the Management information sheet.
In order to communicate effectively any partnership will need a range of materials which explain its purpose, promote its activities and seek to gain support and funding. A Development Trust might need the following during its first year or two of operation:
The shortest material &endash; perhaps a leaflet &endash; is often the most difficult to produce because it challenges the partnership to get across its main messages.
Local media can be a great ally for a new partnership &endash; or the vehicle for constant sniping from critics. Remember news media is mainly in the business of interesting and entertaining its users, and of selling itself or advertising. It is not there as a public service to promote you. Journalists need an interesting story to tell. Would your story be worth telling to a friend outside the project? If not, why should readers or viewers be interested?
In dealing with journalists:
See also Press releases.
Meetings are at the heart of partnership building processes, whether social get-togethers, committees, workshops, or public meetings.
For effective meetings, consider:
See also Action plans, Committees, Public meetings, Workshops.
Companies limited by guarantee, which are the usual structure for Development Trusts, have provision for members rather than shareholders. Members may be individuals or organisations, and may have rights to appoint directors. Their powers are defined by the constitution &endash; the memorandum and articles of association of the company.
The constraints on the scope and powers of members are generally not legal. The question for those developing trusts and other partnerships is how wide or narrow do you wish the power base to be.
See also Accountability, Constitution
Mission is what you wish to achieve. The term is much favoured in business management, but can confuse people with its military or evangelical overtones. 'Purpose' is an alternative, although it has a slightly different sense &endash; I think mission has a stronger emphasis on end result.
See also Aims and objectives, Outcomes, Purpose.
If you find you aren't sure what to do next, or just seem to go around in circles, try one or more of these techniques:
Networking is the important business of making informal contacts, chatting, and picking up further contacts, and is fundamental to partnership building. It is the way to learn:
Networking is important before other more formal information-giving like producing leaflets, staging exhibitions and holding meetings. National networking organisations may also be able to provide you with local contacts, and similar projects elsewhere.
The opposite of ownership, and one of the most significant barriers to participation and partnership. People are far more likely to participate effectively in partnerships if they play a part in developing ideas and action plans.
The way local authorities and other large organisations traditionally work can present major barriers to partnership and community involvement. For example:
Fighting this head on consumes a lot of energy. Instead identify some allies, find out their agendas and &endash; if possible &endash; run some workshop which gets people out of committee mode and into some more creative thinking.
Outcomes is used here to describe those general results of plans and actions which you are seeking to achieve. Thinking in terms of outcomes which you may see, hear, feel as well as the more abstract aims and objectives should help clarify what to do to achieve what you want. For partnerships to work well, the outcomes sought by different parties must dovetail to some extent.
Outputs are the measurable results of projects or programmes &endash; homes built, people who have completed training &endash; and are dear to funders who want to know what they are getting for their money.
The stake that people have in an idea, a project or an organisation is fundamental to their commitment. For that reason, early brainstorming workshops, where everyone has a chance to contribute ideas, are important.
See also Control.
Participation is used here to describe a process by which individuals, groups and organisations are consulted about or have the opportunity to become actively involved in a project or programme of activity.
Partnerships are formal or informal arrangements to work together to some joint purpose. In my view:
Partnerships do not have to be equal &endash; but the various parties do need to feel that they are involved to an appropriate degree.
When a Development Trust or other partnership is funded by a public body, each side may wish to develop an agreement setting out formally the terms of the grant. The funding body should provide the Trust steering group with an outline of the agreement to assist them in preparing the their bid for funds. This may be in the form of an outline business plan, and might cover the following issues:
A major problem for partnerships is that the potential partners usually have different views of the world &endash; different agendas, organisational cultures, priorities. This is a simple technique in which a group uses past experiences to think about the future.
1 Split into groups of 3 or 4
2 Provide each group with a large piece of paper label PAST at the top, and FUTURE at the bottom, and about 20 Post-it notes.
3 Each group member writes what they thought most worthwhile or successful in the past, and what they should be tackling in future. One point to a note.
4 People stick notes on the appropriate part of the paper, and cluster them when they are similar.
5 Small groups report back to the larger group.
Adapted from Training and How to Enjoy It, John Grayson.
In order to make regular checks on progress and keep your plans under review, see development of your partnership building process as a cycle:
Planning for Real is a powerful technique for involving individuals and groups in decisions about their neighbourhood, a site or building by producing a three-dimensional model. This and similar model-based techniques can be very effective in involving people because they allow 'hands on' responses, do not rely on written material, and give everyone a say. It is important that:
Planning for Real is a registered trade mark of the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation. Contac them at firstname.lastname@example.org
A great technical aid to collective decision-making, and an improvement on basic Brainstorming. When running workshops give people pads of Post-its to write their ideas on, then stick them on a chart and move them around into groups.
Issues of power and control and central to the development of partnerships. For example:
The rhetoric of partnership can often be used to disempower people if it is used &endash; consciously or unconsciously &endash; to mask these fundamental questions.
See also Control, Ownership.
Presentations are speeches with props. These may range from a simple flip chart to slides and videos. However, the effectiveness of your presentation will depend more on careful planning than technology. The checklist below should help.
Journalists are bombarded with press releases and bin most of them. Generally personal contact produces more result on important issues. However, you may well need to produce press releases to announce events, provide background, summarise reports or circulate speeches in advance.
See also Communication, Five Ws plus H, Media.
Businesses, large or small, are as much part of any community as local residents and are key partners for Development Trusts for several reasons:
Although widely used, public meetings are not the most effective method of involving people. While they may be useful giving information, and gaining support around a clear-cut issue, they are poor vehicles for debate and decision-making. Classic public meetings with a platform party can easily be dominated by a small number of people, and become stage sets for confrontation.
If you do hold a public meeting:
There are three key questions to ask before embarking on any publicity:
1 Who are you trying to reach? For example, members of an organisation, the general public, sponsors, media, politicians.
2 What result do you want? For example, opinions, volunteers, funding, support.
3 How will you respond? For example, personal contact, leaflets, events or in other ways.
The answers to these questions will determine your choice of publicity method &endash; for example, exhibitions, media, events, print or audio-visual.
See also Communications, Identity and Image, Five Ws plus H.
A statement of purpose, or mission statement, is a summary in a sentence or two of your intention &endash; your aims and objectives. Statements of purpose may start out as broad intentions like 'we aim to create a better place to live and work'. They become meaningful when the aim is followed with statements of how: for example 'by providing advise and support for practical environmental projects'. There may be a number of these 'how to' statements which are objectives. If they are measurable, they become targets.
See also Aims and objectives, Mission, Outcomes, Vision.
Representation should not be confused with involvement when creating partnerships. A token 'community representative' may become isolated and achieve less than carefully-planned process for wider community participation. On the other hand, if there is no-one on the Board of a partnership organisation to argue for this participation it may not take place.
See also Accountability.
This guide argues that events are the milestones in creating partnerships, and one of the main milestones should be a conference or seminar at which all the key interests come together to commit their support to the new organisation. This is best held after a series of workshop, but before all decisions on projects and structure have been taken.
Large meetings and committees are not good for working through difficult issues. You can often make a lot more process by taking some time out in smaller groups and reporting back.
In order to allow members of a large group a say:
Among the committee meetings and workshop sessions allow time for social events where people can get to know each informally. People are far more likely to get involved and support something which is fun.
Development trusts and other partnerships of any size will require staff, and some of these at least should be directly employed by the Trust. Secondees and volunteers can be immensely valuable, but only operate effectively if they have support and guidance. Consequently the Board of a Trust will have to consider appropriate recruitment procedures, terms and conditions of service and other issues of staff management.
Development trusts often have two senior key staff &endash; the executive director and the project manager &endash; supported by an administrator.
During the start up process the steering group will require funds to cover a range of items. Costs will depend on how much help in kind they can attract. For example:
The start up process for a Development Trust or other partnership should be directed by a steering group. If the partnership is to become a company, the steering group should be a 'shadow' Board &endash; acting as if they were the Board, even though they may not be the same individuals who will ultimately take responsibility.
Useful qualities in members of a Trust steering group are:
In order to ensure all parties play a part:
Successful partnerships are not created solely by choosing the right structure, any more than marriages are made by marriage vows. They should be founded on a clear purpose, trust, agreement on responsibilities &endash; and that take time. Consider:
I suggest that for big programmes where a number of interests want a real stake over a long period, go for a company. For short-term projects work through existing structures, and fora.
See also Accountability, Constitution, Terms of reference.
It is tempting, in forming a partnership, to concentrate mainly on formal structure &endash; because that determines where power and control lies. However, just as important in the long term is the style of the organisation: is it open and accessible, does it offer opportunities for personal development to those involved, is it an empire-builder, or is it prepared to work with others?
A successful partnership will have a shared view of these issues internally, and practice what it preaches externally.
A useful early exercise for a steering group is to brainstorm the words by which members would like the partnership described.
Development trusts are generally committed to sustainability on three fronts:
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It's a good technique to start planning a partnership.
When you are clear what your aim is:
Development trusts have some tax advantages over private for-profit companies if they have charitable status. Charities enjoy the following exemptions:
Additionally they can get tax relief on money donated from others e.g. gift aid, and investment income is paid at gross not net.
Team building is the process of helping a group develop shared aims and objectives, values and a plan to put them into action. People working together are better able to get to know each other than, for example, members of a steering group meeting every month or two &endash; so team building workshops can be particularly important for partnerships. If possible use in a trainer who specialises in team building to plan a programme. If not, an 'away day' with a facilitator to work on simple techniques like Brainstorming and SWOT can achieve a lot.
Any steering or working group should have clear terms of reference covering:
Everything takes longer than you think &endash; even when you know it does. Drawing a timeline is a simple technique to set priorities among activities and events which must be completed within a given period of time
See also Workload planning.
Charities cannot engage in income-generating trading unless it is pursuit of their objectives. They can, however, set up subsidiary trading companies which covenant profits back to the charity. If you are considering this type of arrangement consult a solicitor and an accountant experienced in the field. While the option may appear attractive, many charities have found trading companies problematic. Unless well run, they can cost more than they earn.
Trust is an essential foundation for partnership. It comes from working together and through that discovering shared values and ways of doing things. In order to develop trust:
Trust is a term rather loosely used for different types of organisations. When lawyers use 'Trust' they may mean a legal arrangement created through a Trust deed in which trustees are bound to use funds provided by a benefactor to assist beneficiaries. Trust is also used in the title of various partnership organisations like Development Trusts and community trusts. Here it does not a have a strict legal meaning, but usually implies that the organisation is a charitable company or has charitable purposes.
If a Development Trust or other partnership is a charitable company, the Board of directors will also be trustees &endash; that is, they will have responsibilities under the Charities Acts as well under company law. These responsibilities are wide ranging, and trustees should be well briefed and offered training in their role.
Values are statements of what we consider important. Since they may be emotive, political, and difficult to express, they are frequently hidden. However it is difficult to understand each other or reach agreement if we are unclear about values &endash; and so shared values are fundamental to successful partnerships.
For example, council officers faced with a tight project timetable may be frustrated by a community group which insists on numerous meetings, held in the evenings, leading to the appointment of a representative steering group. The officers value cost-effective delivery of 'product' acceptable to their political masters and the Government; the group values openness and democratic process. In groups where there may be underlying differences of values it is often most productive to concentrate first on what there is in common by discussing outcomes &endash; what you would like to happen at the end of the day &endash; and how you can get there.
The idea of a vision of the future seems to me rather broader than purpose or mission, because it places more emphasis on values and approach &endash; how you do things as well as the result you achieve. Vision may be a helpful term if you are using participation techniques that encourage people to create pictures of what they want, or develop models. Partnerships need vision &endash; and visions.
See Past and Future
This blanket term is often used to cover a wide range of organisations which are very different from each other:
There will be a wide range of community and voluntary organisations in any community, and they may be concerned about the creation of any new body which may compete with them for scarce resources. They may also be suspicious &endash; with good reason &endash; of initiatives which are simply devices for large organisations to access Government funds by claiming they are working in partnership.
Anyone seeking to create a Development Trust should consider what benefits the Trust will bring beyond those offered by existing bodies, and seek to recruit them as allies in the start up process. They may otherwise become enemies.
See also Community.
A working group is a small group set up with a specific task to complete, with members chosen for their appropriate skills. Working groups are a good way of making sure interested people can get involved and make a contribution, and may be more appropriate than committees with broad responsibilities. In setting up working groups:
This technique , which combines action plans with a time line, can be useful in planning the development of a partnership. However, while helpful, it is important to recognise that partnership building doesn't run on rails, and there will be many excursions and diversions from the chart!
Project management computer software is available to carry out workload planning, but can be rather time-consuming to use.
See also Time line.
Workshops are meetings at which a small group, perhaps aided by a facilitator, explore issues, develop ideas and make decisions. They are the less formal and creative counterpart to public meetings and committees.
© David Wilcox email@example.com. http://www.partnerships.org.uk/pguide. Tel +44 (0) 20 7600 0104