This manual is an effort by TNC to compile, analyze and synthesize its own experience, together with that of the water funds already in existence and under creation, in order to provide operational guidelines to people and organizations interested in establishing a water fund or similar mechanism. Each location has different ecological, social, economic, legal and institutional features and, therefore, each water fund will have its own characteristics, phases and projections. This manual presents general guidelines and logical steps that must be followed to boost the opportunities and benefits of a water fund and to minimize possible obstacles for its creation. It is not intended to be an in-depth look at every aspect of water funds. Although TNC participates in several other initiatives and similar approaches to watershed management, such as the water producers program in Brazil, this document will not address those initiatives and will only focus on the water funds scheme, placing greater emphasis on experiences in the Andean region.