Managing community funds

Community Development Plans (CDPs)

A good development plan for your community will guide all that comes after, will bring people and resources together, will enable and empower people to grasp new opportunities and will help growth. Look at the plans for your area drawn up by the local authority and other agencies such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland or Scottish Water. Consider these for initial ideas and develop your plan to reflect what your community needs.

The fundamentals to developing a plan are:

  • community engagement
  • clear, deliverable ideas for projects
  • sustaining interest
  • providing a timescale
  • review and updating

The plan should include:

Identified needs of the community: The CDP should identify the services, amenities and facilities that are lacking or missing in your area. This should be established and backed up by evidence from community consultation (where the community themselves identify and prioritise their needs) and can make reference to local and national statistics, where appropriate. A community “audit” is a useful early exercise which brings people together and can inform your plan. Such an audit should identify assets and opportunities as well as the  challenges and needs.

What change needs to happen: The CDP should contain an action plan detailing how the opportunities, needs and requirements will be addressed in both the short and long-term – this should be subject to periodic review and update. The community needs can be addressed through projects which provide new or improved services,
assets, activities, amenities and facilities. Set out the order in which you wish to develop your projects
according to the priorities you have identified.

There is no fixed format for CDPs and there are lots of examples online. A first draft may just be a page or two developed from the ideas of a few like-minded individuals. However, getting this widely accepted by your community will involve a process of consultation, review and change that should keep the document live and relevant, reflecting changes and progress in your community. This process should not diminish over time.

If you or others within your community already have a plan in place, check it is appropriate for use in connection with managing a fund. The CDP is an essential tool for describing your aims to others including potential funders. It can also influence developments you decide to lead directly, and it will guide whichever method you use to distribute income, irrespective of how it was generated.

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