Managing community funds

Investing in your community - A guide to managing community funds

Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE) Community Centre


It’s hard to believe that Fintry Development Trust has been around since 2007, the same year our wind turbine became operational. And even before then we were discussing our plans with the windfarm developer, Falck Renewables and working out how our organisation should be structured and governed.

Since then we’ve managed to deliver a significant number of projects for the village we live in, but looking back, it sometimes seems miraculous that we ever reached this stage. In the early days, as the first joint venture project in Scotland, we were largely making it up as we went along: the full complement of dead-ends were thoroughly explored as we tried to put something together that would make sense. Along the way we sought and received advice from a large number of organisations but, needless to say, if a guide like this had been around it would have saved us many wasted hours.

Having said that, a key lesson for me from the process we went through, was how important it is that whatever approach is taken it has to be the right one for the situation. This is clearly stated on page six, but for me, can’t be emphasised enough. Whatever approach you take has to be right for the community and it also has to be right for the opportunity you’re dealing with. This also applies later in the process: over the years since we’ve started managing our fund and delivering projects our approach has evolved and changed depending on the environment in which we’re operating. There’s a lot of fantastic information in this document, but like all guides, you should take what you can from it and fill in the gaps for yourself with whatever makes sense.

The best of luck with all your ventures.

Gordon Cowtan
Fintry Development Trust


These are unprecedented times for community development. Many communities are beginning to generate significant income from renewable energy projects, and looking forward to continuing to do so for decades. Importantly, this money is in community control, without government or agency imposed limitations and rules. What’s more, the voluntary commitment of commercial wind farm developers to provide ‘community benefit’ means that funds available across Scotland will be tens of millions of pounds every year.

As an economic development agency, with a particular and unique remit to strengthen communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise recognises the significance of this opportunity. Alongside our partners, we are seeking to work with communities to help set up processes and structures to enable local people to make the best use of this resource.

We have prepared this guide for community organisations with an interest in distributing funds derived from income received either from their own renewable energy project or from the voluntary contributions (community benefit) made by a commercial developer. However, it is just as relevant to the distribution of funds from other sources.

What is contained here is advice and guidance. It’s not mandatory or prescriptive and the organisations that put it together will still be able to offer support.

This work is often challenging. You need ambition, dedication, patience and determination. That’s why the experience and support of other communities who are already treading this path can be invaluable. And the rewards you could achieve, both for present and future generations, will make it all worthwhile.


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