Charter or Terms of Reference


A draft charter or Terms of Reference (TOR) can serve as a jumping off point for procedural discussions. Some project leaders and facilitators like to build these from the ground up with no advance preparation and with the full participation and presence of the group. Many groups do not have the patience for this and often get bogged down in it. They are inclined to trust the facilitator’s judgment and ability not to preemptively assume agreement on a proposed charter.

Critical components of a charter or TOR are:

  • The mission of the group
  • A schedule of proposed meetings
  • Rules of behavior
  • Explicit ground rules about representation and how decision making will work

(See, for example, Healthcare Reform Dialogue Charter)

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