In 1999, Community Matters commissioned research to celebrate the achievements of the community association movement and to better understand their relevance to 21st century Britain. From a series of workshops with members and a nation wide survey the VISIBLE framework was developed.

Draft operating standards were published for consultation in The Visible Difference - Making It Happen and an extensive consultation was coupled with a pilot implementation of the standards with 15 community organisations.

At a Community Matters AGM, members voted overwhelmingly for the introduction of national minimum standards for the membership based on the VISIBLE Communities™ model.

As a result of this extensive process, the draft standards were revised to widen their relevance to other community centre organisations and to take account of recent thinking in the areas of governance, charity regulation, trustee duties, community anchors and standards for other related groups such as Tenants and Residents Associations.

During 2007-2008 Community Matters worked with five member organisations to pilot the VISIBLE Standards. After a review of these pilots the national VISIBLE Standards and their accreditation were launched as the VISIBLE Communities™ programme in Jan 2009.