Friends Group Project

703-324-8665 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia
Allison Rankin

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Friends Group Project

For over 50 years, the Park Authority’s Friends Groups have supported, enhanced, and advocated for Fairfax County’s parks, facilities, and services. In order to acknowledge and expand upon the added benefit of Friends Groups, the Park Authority’s 2013-2018 Strategic Plan includes a project to develop agency wide consistency in how the Park Authority partners with and supports all of our Friends Groups.

The Friends Group Project outcomes are: a Friends Group Handbook, a new Park Authority Board Policy, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The input and responsiveness of the Friends Groups during this project is tremendously helpful and influential on the development of the Handbook, policy, and MOU, so we thank you for your help!

We hope the Friends Project Page will help keep our Friends Groups up-to-date on the project status, including what we already accomplished, the current phase, and what is on the horizon.

If you want to be added to our Friends Group mailing list or for more information about Friends Groups, please contact Allison Rankin at or 703-324-8665.

Project Outcome Updates

Part I: Friends Groups and Park Authority staff jointly developed a Park Authority Board Policy on Friends Groups and a Memorandum of Understanding template that is customizable to reflect each relationship between the Friends Group and the Site or Program.

Park Policy 407 - Friends Groups

Memorandum of Understanding template

Part II: The Friends Group Handbook has been finalized. The Handbook will serve as a resource for new and existing Friends Groups, additional partners, and interested parties. Park Authority staff worked with Friends to develop and review the Handbook.

Meetings and Resources

  • October 19, 207; November 20, 2017; and December 1, 2017
  • Goals: revise the MOU to be customizable and create a third draft of the MOU, finalize the Friends Policy to go be approved by the Park Board, and review the Capacity Building Funding

  • Agenda
  • Federation of Friends PowerPoint Presentation
  • Major Takeaways:
    • Next Step will be to form a Task Force with Friends representatives and Park Authority staff to finalize the Draft MOU. Friends Groups will then customize the template to best reflect their group. Upon consensus of the Friends Group, the Friends Group and Park Authority will sign the MOU.
    • In general, Friends Groups supported the proposed Capacity Building Fund.

  • Agenda
  • Federation of Friends PowerPoint Presentation
  • Major Takeaways:
    • Policy feedback station: Include in the Policy what the Park Authority will do for Friends Groups and projects to which Friends donate funds should be completed in a timely manner.
    • PVT feedback station: Concerns were expressed about the name and the level of autonomy as a volunteer program. There was very positive feedback that they would be covered under the County’s Volunteer Insurance Policy.

Project Status Timeline


  • Handbook finalized and posted on Friends Group webpage
  • Continue to finalize and sign MOUs with Friends Groups
  • Federation of Friends Meeting - Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Twin Lakes Golf Course
  • Staff continued working on development of PVT program
  • Park Authority staff continue to work with Friends Groups to review and approve MOUs
  • Work continued on finalizing the Friends Group Handbook
  • Friends customize their MOU and develop Special Provisions sections
  • Friends Groups and Park Authority review and approve customized MOUs
  • Friends customized their MOU and developed Special Provisions sections
  • Friends Groups and Park Authority reviewed and approved customized MOUs
  • Friends submitted Friends Capacity Building Fund applications (see the presentation on the Capacity Building Fund for more information)
  • Park Authority reviewed and approved Capacity Building Fund


  • Proposed the Capacity Building Funding idea to the Park Foundation Board
  • Taskforce met monthly and reviewed the MOU, Policy, and the Capacity Building Funding
  • Distributed the Taskforce's MOU template and Policy to all Friends
  • Developed the PVT Program application and process; continued meeting with PVTs


  • Formed the Friends Taskforce to finalize a MOU template and the Policy
  • Held the first Taskforce meeting and completed revisions to the first half of the MOU
  • Met with PVTs


  • Staff met individually with Friends Groups or potential Park Volunteer Teams
  • Friends provided feedback on the Policy, MOU, and PVT Program first drafts
  • Staff team revised the Policy, MOU, and PVT Program based on Friends' input
  • Summer Federation Meeting August 8, 2017
  • Developed the Capacity Building Funding idea and received input from Friends
  • Spring Federation of Friends meeting
  • Friends reviewed first drafts of the Policy, MOU, and the PVT Program
  • Reprioritized: determined a Park Board Policy and a Memorandum of Understanding should guide that the Handbook development. Work on the Handbook will continue after the Policy and MOU are completed and approved.
  • Began to draft the Policy and MOU
  • Received initial input from the Staff Team,  County staff on Policy and MOU
  • Winter Federation of Friends meeting
  • Friends reviewed Table of Contents (TOC) second draft
  • Initiated Handbook draft
  • Staff Team reviewed Handbook Release 1


  • Distributed survey to Friends Groups
  • Staff Team for the Friends Group Project, including park staff and the Director's Office, formed and began meeting
  • Park Staff started to work with County Risk Management and the Office of the County Attorney to ensure Friends are protected.
  • Developed Handbook TOC first draft and distributed to Friends for review
  • Staff Team reviewed Friends comments on TOC and drafted a second version of the TOC




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