Memorandum of Understanding



A Memorandum of Understanding or MOU is an agreement that can detail a project’s purpose, ethos and guiding principles. It will inform the project as well as describe concrete things like schedules, budgets, outcomes.

An MOU is one of the most valuable assets to have at this stage of a project. It is similar to a contract insofar as it a piece of paper that sets out what the project is and the roles, responsibilities and expectations of everyone involved, but whereas a conventional contract places defined expectations on the signatories, an MOU is co-written by all the parties to provide a road-map for the next stages of development, and to clarify the shared understanding of the project, what each party can expect from the others and what other parties expect from you.

Depending on the complexity of the project, the MOU will identify the basic principles and timelines, as well as roles and responsibilities for a project. It may indicate the overall budget or a strategy to source funding. It might identify sources of funding and/or contain funding commitments. 

  • What is the project? (How would you describe the project in a nutshell?)

  • What are its aims? (What does it want to accomplish.)

  • What are its objectives? (How will it achieve it aims?)

  • Who is involved? (What does each stakeholder expect from the project and are these achievable?)

  • Overview of what is expected to happen and when. (A breakdown of the steps that are known.)

  • How will it be resourced? 

  • Who is taking responsibility for the different roles and tasks in the project?

An MOU can be multi-phased. You may know a great deal about what you want to do for the next three months but not wish to, or be able to, plan beyond that point yet. An MOU can reflect this, providing detail for what is known and indicating an intention or desire to continue beyond that point, whilst not defining or committing to what might happen after that.