People in business, non-profit organizations, and managing projects utilize the structure of a charter to convey key objectives about their initiatives to interested parties. The typical content of a charter includes information about the purpose, how the mission will be achieved, financial position, organizational structure and the cost or benefit anticipated. A well-written charter can help organizations organize these items, validate them against expectations, condense them into marketable highlights and serve as a trigger for acceptance, financing and marketing activities.
Gather a variety of existing charters. Planning documents for business ventures are different from those of non-profits or projects. Review the contents of each to determine the common denominator (body of knowledge) and use this as your basis for the template.
Develop categories for these common areas. Many charters have similar content, such as executive summary, purpose, product or service description, target population (market), strategy (approach), and organizational structure (participants). Determine which categories are appropriate for a single (or general) charter and which can be applied to specialized charter templates.
Create an outline of suggested content. Templates should provide guidance for the user, not tell the story. Develop a set of questions the each section should address. Alternate the road map, starting with a description of each segment, or section, followed by a list of questions that should be answered in greater detail.
Evaluate the template by conducting a test. Provide the template to potential users and experienced charter writers. Gather their feedback and incorporate the suggestions into the template.
Create a section for frequently asked questions that are likely to come from novice writers. Prevention and being proactive can help minimize the opportunity for misunderstanding.
Provide links to sample completed charters. Good examples will help build confidence and understanding among potential users and strengthen the validity and reliability of your instrument.