You are aware of the problems that exist in your community, you are determined to take action and make a difference. Indaba-Network is ready to support you through the nine steps of your project, they are:
- 1. Forming a team
- 2. Choosing a field of action
- 3. Choosing the site of the project, identifying the stakeholders
- 4. Analyzing problems and needs, setting up objectives
- 5. Setting up an action plan
- 6. Preparing a budget
- 7. Looking for resources
- 8. Implementing, monitoring and evaluating
- 9. Reporting and communicating
1. Forming a team
Alone, you cannot achieve anything. To succeed you must form a team or join a group.
Most of the major social changes have been created by small groups, by teams. The best teams meet diverse personalities that complement and enrich each other. A team of “clones” is worthless! How to build a team? You certainly have some good friends with whom you would like to travel, carry out crazy projects, do something you never did … Contact them and offer them to “take the road” with you …
Four key tools for a successful team
Any group, to be effective and successful, must have four basic tools:
- A shared vision of what the group members want to achieve together: they must have a clear idea of their common goals and agree with them. Establishing the goals of the group must be a cooperative process. When they adhere to the goals of the group, all members are actually willing to do their best to achieve them.
- An equitable distribution of roles and responsibilities: each group member must be able contribute to the success based on their abilities and skills. If someone has no role, he will not have the feeling to be really part of the group. Everyone must have a specific role and be recognized by others.
- A set of rules that define what the rights and duties of each member : what are the values on which the team life is based, how decisions are made and how the work of the group and individual contributions are assessed.
- An action plan leading the team’s work: the goals (Why?); the list of tasks to done (What?); the date on which each task must be performed (when?); which member is responsible for achieving the task (Who?); and resources (equipment and money) required for this (with what).
Every team must have a leader. This is not an all-powerful dictator. Its role is to facilitate the participation of all and foster the team cohesion. A good leader must pay attention to three elements:
- The task: the work at hand, which usually requires practical skills and techniques;
- The group: all the people who must perform the task; they must remain united and organized, share a common vision of purpose and support each other;
- Each individual: everyone in the group with its own motivations and desire to be listened and treated according to his/her particular needs to be able to give the best.
These three elements may conflict. If the leader is too attentive to the needs of an individual, it may not meet the needs of others and threaten the group’s cohesion. If he/she is too exclusively interested in the job, he/she may not perceive the problems that exist within the group and the particular needs of each individual. So there will be conflicts that will reduce the effectiveness of the group.
Depending on the circumstances, the leader will maintain the best possible balance between the three elements.
Look at the Resources page in the category Organizations and Networks
Join the social network project indabaXchange and form a group to manage your collective work and communicate with others.
2. Choosing a field of action
In what area would you take action? It depends on your tastes and skills. A group of students in agronomy, will probably be interested in agricultural production and sustainable agriculture; young graphic designers or drama students will choose the field of communication and culture; engineers will be attracted to alternative technologies and sustainable energy… Perhaps you would be a multidisciplinary team that will try to help a community to develop an integrated project, involving several areas at once.
Indaba-Network focuses on eight key fields of action that are neither exhaustive nor compartmentalized. They are there to foster your imagination and give you ideas. You will find in the Resources page documentation for each of these fields:
Horizons: Discovering the diversity of landscapes and cultures; learning about other regions, countries and communities; travelling in a responsible manner respecting the environment, people and cultures; understanding the global interactions and challenging ethnic prejudice and racism while respecting cultural identities.
Planet: Being aware of the need to protect the environment; using natural resources in a sustainable way; protecting biodiversity; developing alternative energy, managing waste to avoid pollution; developing sustainable agriculture, and so on.
Health: Being responsible for one’s health, that is to say, his physical, mental and social well-being; avoiding risky behaviours and consumption of addictive substances (tobacco, alcohol, drugs); knowing and respecting the needs of one’s body; keeping a balanced diet and practicing regular physical activity, etc..
Cultures: Encouraging people from different cultures to communicate and understand each other; providing the community with means of communication and expression in order to express its problems, needs, and expectations through its own culture; helping the community to use mass media and promote new awareness and participation, etc..
Education: Better articulating formal and non-formal education; developing new forms of education more attractive, more efficient, more respectful of cultural diversity to give everyone the chance to develop its full potential, to find a creative place in society.
Social Economy: exploring ways to access to employment and financial independence; developing income-generating activities to challenge poverty; experimenting new ways to create social enterprises.
Glocal Citizenship: Knowing your rights and responsibilities; fighting against injustice and discrimination; taking an active role in decisions concerning one’s community; helping build a more just, peaceful and caring society.
Organizations and networks: Denying individualism and taking an active role in volunteer organizations is essential for the development of society: youth movements and education, trade unions, charities, cultural organizations, associations, environmental groups, political parties, and so on. Taking initiatives to make their operations more efficient, more democratic and more respectful of people.
3. Choosing the site of the project, identifying the stakeholders
You cannot intervene everywhere. You must choose a place for action: your own community or a remote community from another region, another country discovered during a trip. We can only act locally, but we must act in a global perspective, that is to say, being aware that the living conditions of the local community are influenced by global interactions.
You do not choose a site of action randomly but because you have developed relationships with people. Be realistic, keep in mind one simple rule: the closer the site of action is, greater the chances of success are. When there are fewer cultural and language barriers, greater ease of contact with beneficiaries, it is easier to gather information and analyze problems and needs.
However, if you choose to intervene in a remote region or a country, try to gather as much information as possible on the local community involved, look for people who already have a concrete knowledge of the situation there. In the case of a project of international solidarity, for example, you can effectively make contact with an association of migrants from the country and the region where you will take action. Such an association can become an efficient partner. It will also be necessary to visit the community and meet with the authorities, local leaders, people and check your assumptions.
Once the site of action is chosen, you must identify the stakeholders, that is to say all those involved in the project in one way or another and who may have a positive or negative influence on the project or be affected positively or negatively by its success or failure. They should be involved in the needs assessment and in defining objectives.
The stakeholders may include the following categories:
- Authorities, local governments, media: all institutions that can hinder or promote the success of the project
- Beneficiaries: that is to say all those who will benefit from the project in a direct, immediate (target groups, direct beneficiaries) or indirect, long-term way (final beneficiaries).
- Partners: all those who contribute in one way or another to the project
This classification applies regardless of the project, even if it is to create a small business.
Handout Stakeholder Analysis
4. Assessing problems and needs, setting up objectives
The problems are the difficulties faced by a community or some of its members: environmental problems (drought, floods, pollution); health problems (lack of clean water, poor hygiene, infectious diseases, food problems, food shortages, under-nutrition); poverty problems (low income, bad housing, etc); safety problems (conflict, crimes, accidents, lack of respect for human rights); educational problems (poor access to school, school dropping, lack of teachers, etc.)
The needs are the solutions necessary to solve problems: irrigation, reforestation, waste management, drilling, water systems, clinics, vaccinations, improving agricultural production, creation of small businesses, home improvement, prevention of crime, establishment of schools, improving education, etc..
Problems and needs assessment – whatever the field of action you’ve chosen – must be done in consultation with stakeholders and beneficiaries. This involves considerable time to meet people and enter in dialogue with them. You cannot make people happy without them. Beware of the technocratic tendency which lead you believe that you know the situation better than people and that problems will be easily solved by applying technical solutions.
Objectives are measurable qualitative or quantitative changes expected after a certain period of time to meet the identified needs.
We say that a good goal should be SMART. It’s a mnemonic device to remember the five characteristics of a perfect objective:
- Specific: the objective must define exactly the result we want to achieve.
- Measurable: you must be able to easily measure the results obtained.
- Achievable: the objective must be achieved within the allotted time.
- Realistic: the objective must be attainable with the available resources.
- Timed: the wording of the objective must indicate a deadline for the achievement.
You have to practice writing objectives in order they have these five characteristics. Very often, we confuse activity and objective.
“Building a dispensary for villagers” is not an objective, it is an activity.
“In three months, villagers will have a dispensary equipped for primary care” is a good objective: it defines a specific result to be achieved at the end of a given time.
To identify indicators, we must ask yourself: How will we know that what we have planned is happening or has happened? How to be sure that we have achieved our goal?
Note that it is often necessary to establish several indicators to measure a single goal. For example an indicator can give a good qualitative measure which should be supplemented by another indicator focuses on quantitative information.
However, one must be aware that checking indicators takes time. Therefore, avoid to define too many indicators because their checking would become unmanageable.
A good indicator must be objectively verifiable, that is to say that if the flag is raised by two different people, it must give the same information. You can find more information on the indicators in the resource “the logical framework of a development project”
Problem Tree and ObjectiveTree
The logical framework of a development project
5. Setting up an action plan
An action plan is a table showing the list of all tasks or activities required to achieve each objective.
Sequential and parallel activities
An essential concept behind project planning is that some activities are dependent on other activities being completed first. For example, it is not a good idea to start building a bridge before you have designed it! These dependent activities need to be completed in a sequence, with each stage being more-or-less completed before the next activity can begin. We call dependent activities sequential or linear.
Other activities are not dependent on completion of any other tasks. These may be done at any time before or after a particular stage is reached. These are non-dependent or parallel tasks.
For each task, show:
- The earliest start date.
- Estimated length of time it will take.
- Whether it is parallel or sequential; if tasks are sequential, show which stage they depend on.
(Keeping a certain margin to account for accidents or contingencies)
You will end up with a task list like the one below:
Objective: In six months, a video film will be available to raise awareness on fair trade
We see that in this table most of activities are sequential: they can not start before those on which they depend. For example the drawing storyboards can not begin until the script has been written and the script can not start before we agreed on the concept of the film.
However, some activities can be performed at the same time:
- Recruiting actors and crew,
- Identifying locations
- Preparing the shooting script.
Since each requires 3 weeks of work, if we waited for one to be carried out before starting the other, we would lose six weeks.
Now that we have established the sequence of activities and identify parallel activities, we can establish a Gantt chart.
Example of a Gantt chart: creation of a video
The diagram helps to show the corrections that could be done to improve the pan action. We see here that if fundraising could begin earlier (eg, with only an estimated budget without waiting for the actual budget is established), we could win two or three weeks at least.
We can complete the Gantt chart by adding a column showing who is in charge of each activity (“In charge”).
6. Preparing a budget
Once the action plan is set up, the next step is to prepare the budget of your project.
The budget must show the costs on one hand, i.e. the projected expenditure, and on the other hand the expected income. It must be balanced, that is to say that the total expected income should equal the total expenditure.
It is essential to calculate in advance all the costs of the project in order to avoid any surprise that could be catastrophic. There are two types of costs: operational costs and management costs.
These are the costs of carrying out the various planned activities. You calculate the cost of each activity and you make the total. Then you should classify the expenditure into various cost categories, for example:
- Transport: travel, transport equipment, vehicle rental, vehicle repair
- Materials and equipment: Purchases of equipment and supplies, equipment rental, maintenance and repair
- Human Resources (assigned to a particular activity): salaries, benefits, training, meeting, insurance.
- Food and accommodation
These are the costs of project management, which cannot be related to a particular activity. For example:
- Costs of administrative staff (secretarial, accounting): Salaries and allowances.
- Operating expenses: office supplies, telecommunications / internet, photocopying and printing, bank charges, seat (electricity, water, Supplies), insurance, etc.
- Care must be taken not to inflate too much management costs by trying to affect as many costs as possible to particular activities foreseen in the Action Plan.
The budget must show the various revenues that are designed to meet the costs.
It is also important to note the contributions of the beneficiaries (in-kind donations and volunteer services). Potential donors will appreciate that you have successfully raised capital through various activities such as a raffle, a show, etc..
You may classify the various income in categories such as:
- Own revenues.
- Gifts and benefits in kind.
It should be emphasized that the budget –which is a forecast document – must present a balance between spending and revenues. By definition, a budget cannot show a deficit. A possible deficit must be covered by grants sought.
If balancing the budget seems too difficult, it is then necessary to reduce costs.
Cash flow plan
Alongside the budget, it is useful to establish a cash flow, that is to say a timetable showing the need for cash you have, month by month, based on your action plan, to meet operational costs and management costs.
Even if you’re sure to balance the budget at the end, there can be at times a gap between the money you have in the kitty and the expenses you face. This must be anticipated in order to find solutions: a reserve fund, special loans, overdraft accepted by the bank, etc.
7. Looking for resources
To make your project successful, you must get the resources you need.
There are two kinds of resources:
- Human resources and expertise: knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate
- The financial resources
Human resources and expertise
Identify the skills that exist within your team and those you lack. Find a partner with complementary expertise.
Indaba-Network can provide you with several useful resources:
- Its group of experts and advisers
- The handouts and files that you can download from the Toolbox
The completion of your project requires financial resources. You have established your budget, you know the total costs that you face. You must find the revenues to cover them.
How? There are two possible sources of financing: own revenues and grants.
Potential donors will be more willing to help you if they see that you have made efforts to gain money by yourself.
Here are some ideas for developing your own revenues:
- Rummage sale or flea market: you get a van and make a tour of homes in your area asking people to give you used items that can be sold in a booth that you will organize at the next rummage sale or flea market. The tour of the houses must be preceded by a press campaign (article in the local newspaper, radio interview) to market your project and explain why you need money.
- Piggy in the stores: you ask several shops and supermarkets permission to place a sign near the cash with your project and a piggy bank where buyers can deposit loose change at the time they make purchases. You just have to pick up the piggy at the end of each day.
- Show or concert: If you have friends actors, musicians or singers, get their help to organize a musical show or concert. Advertise to bring as many viewers as possible. The benefit of the show will help fund your project.
- Dinner show: it’s a variant of the previous activity, but this time the spectators pay to attend a dinner. The recipe is therefore higher. In addition, you can propose typical dishes of the country where the project will be organized.
- Raffle: Tour the shops to collect lots and organize a raffle.The raffle is a lottery in which numbered tickets are drawn. Attention in some countries, you need to ask an official authorization to organize such an event.
- Bingo: The traditional lottery (rifle, chloroquine, carton full) is played in an evening or an afternoon in a friendly local. At the beginning of the game, players buy one or several cards. On each card, there is a grid with three rows and nine columns. A bingo caller randomly draws a ball or a chip on which is written a number. Each player at the announcement of the number drawn by the playmaker check whether one of its cards contains the number drawn. If so, it puts a chip on the card. This is followed by another draw, and so on until one of the participants had filled its card. The winner receives a gift in kind given by a shop. (it is therefore necessary to collect lots from the shops in advance). The organization of a bingo may be subject to authorization.
You can also seek financial support from a donor. This requires implementing a well-prepared process that includes the following phases:
- Set your goal: you have a project with an action plan and budget. You must be able to accurately answer these two questions: what is the amount of the grant you want to get and when.
- Identify potential donors: search in your environment what are the potential donors. Some are private: corporations, foundations, banks, non-governmental organizations. Other are public, in Europe, for example, local authorities (communes, departments, regions) can provide grants to support projects.
- Select the most appropriate donors: learn about the various potential donors on their funding criteria and select those to whom you can go with the best chance of success.
- Prepare a grant application: often institutional donors (corporations, foundations, governments) have a model on the Internet and a downloadable application that you must follow. But in general, the information requested is already the ones you have collected to build your project:
- What are the problems and needs that you want to answer?
- What are the answers you want to develop (objectives, methods, resources, action plan)?
- What are the obstacles you must overcome?
- How will you evaluate the results and impact (indicators, monitoring and evaluation)?
- What are the resources you already have to implement these responses (human resources, skills, experience, partnerships, equity)?
- What is your budget? (Income and expenditure)
- How much financial support you are requesting?
- Handout Fundraising Principles and Tips
- Handout Fundraising Events
- Handout Fundraising Strategy
- Handout Grant Application
- Handout Sources and Uses of Money
- Handout Creating a Business Plan
- Handout Business Plan Template
8. Implementing, monitoring and evaluating
You have the human and financial resources you need, your action plan is ready, it’s time to start the implementation phase. But to manage it well, face the unexpected, avoid drift and verify the results you get, you must set up a monitoring and evaluation system. Monitoring and evaluation is the process of collecting, analysing and using information to help make good decisions during the action.
The team in charge of the project must collect and store all information on the implementation and progress of the project: costs, use of resources, implementation of activities, results and risk management.
Monitoring is the ongoing analysis of the progress of the project based in regard of the expected results in order to facilitate the necessary decisions to adapt to circumstances.
Monitoring is powered by regular reports from the teams outlining the actions taken, the expenditure engaged and analyzing progress towards achieving the objectives (with the help of indicators).
One or more team members should be responsible for monitoring. There should also be a steering committee, including representatives of partners and beneficiaries, in charge of regularly reviewing the information and make the necessary decisions to adapt the action plan.
The purpose of the evaluation is to verify the design, implementation and results of the project during its implementation and after its completion.
Evaluation is the measure of effectiveness, efficiency, impact, relevance and sustainability of actions. It is based on the indicators that were selected for each objective.
Handout Monitoring and Evaluation
9. Reporting and communicating
Once the project came to an end, it is necessary to conduct the final evaluation to measure the project impact and sustainability. Stakeholders should be involved in the evaluation. It is also recommended, if possible, to use independent external evaluators.
The evaluation of a project usually takes into account five criteria:
- The relevance of project objectives vis-à-vis the assessed problems and needs.
- The efficiency of the project: does the project results have been achieved at a reasonable cost?
- The effectiveness of the project that is evaluating how the results have met expectations and needs of beneficiaries.
- The impact of the project: the impact of the project on its wider environment and its contribution to the overall policy or objectives of the sector (health, environment, fight against poverty, etc.).
- The sustainability of the project: will the benefits of the project persist over time?
The evaluation report
It is essential to prepare an evaluation report to be circulated to stakeholders, partners and donors.
An evaluation report generally includes the following parts:
- The summary: Well-written and used as a standalone document. Short, no more than five pages, it focuses on the main points of the analysis, shows the conclusions, lessons learned and recommendations.
- The main text: it begins with an introduction describing the purpose and objective of the evaluation. The body of the report should follow the five evaluation criteria, the description of the facts and their analysis in accordance with the key issues relating to each criterion.
- Conclusions and recommendations: For each main conclusion we have to find a corresponding recommendation. The final value of an evaluation depends on the quality and credibility of proposed recommendations. The recommendations must be realistic, operational and pragmatic.
Capitalizing on the experience
Monitoring and evaluation are expected to capitalize on the experience of the team. Capitalizing is turning the experience into knowledge to be shared with others, that is to say:
- Highlighting our skills and competencies.
- Theorizing the know-how in order to avoid losing them.
- Modelling knowledge in order to not losing it.
- Transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.
So it is just giving us the keys to prepare the future.
The final report of your project including the tools you have developed may be published on the site of Indaba-Network.
Handout How to Communicate on Your Project