4. Making a Convincing Case and Securing Investment
This section outlines what needs to be done during the second phase in working towards starting a Community Owned Library. These activities will enable you to test in detail the viability of your project, and plan how best it could be delivered. During this phase of your project your plans will develop from being a locally supported feasible outline proposal to a detailed business plan which can be used to attract any external support and finance that may be required. Ideally as a part of this process you will also complete negotiations around ‘Heads of Terms’ (if you are seeking an asset transfer) so all parties have clarity as to the outline nature and terms of the transfer and related matters.
Whether you plan to use an existing library building or another site, the transformation of a local service is an opportunity to attract new investment. If you are planning to undertake a major refurbishment or development then you may need to attract hundreds of thousands of pounds. If you are simply planning to refresh an existing library and invest in some new equipment you may require considerably less. Attracting investment of any kind requires preparation. The activities that follow have to be addressed to enable the project and the organisation developing it to have credibility for investors and to be able to manage any investment it receives. Choose a topic within this category from the above menu to learn more about a specific area.
To make a convincing case and get investment ready, organisations (including ther boards) need to demonstrate the three c’s. i.e. they need to have established sufficient:
Capacity – To take on the project and make a success of it, making sure there are enough people involved with the right skills and knowledge.
Credibility – With potential investors and partners, being real about risks and understanding the numbers. Being able to demonstrate a track record through previous experiences.
Confidence – To answer difficult questions about the business, and sell the vision.
Key Governance Issues to Consider
- Looking ahead at the various stages of transfer, are the governance arrangements of the community organisation fit for purpose?
- Is there some form of ‘expectations document’ setting out the responsibilities of the Local Authority and community organisation, support offered and dispute resolution options?
- Are there enough volunteers on board to help the community organisation become a strong and well governed body?
- Is a new legal structure required to undertake the transfer?
- Will it be better to separate the transfer another legal body so that any unforeseen liabilities cannot impact on the core organisation?
- Has the Board the capacity to control and oversee the process or are new members needed to add expertise or training required for existing members?
- How can the ongoing momentum of the organisation’s core work be sustained?
- In deciding to go forward the board must address its own capacity, ensure good reporting systems and undertake a risk assessment. Talk to others who have ‘done it’ and look carefully at options for incorporation.
- Remember that the full board needs to have ownership and that it is the board that must take the key decision to undertake feasibility, to commit resource, to contract, and to take loans. Look carefully at the financial projections and make sure that the costs and revenues are fully understood.
- Consider how you want reporting on the project to work and whether you want to handle it through a committee. Identify the stop / go gates at each stage – the points in the process at which you commit resource to a stage.