Three Steps to Planning Your Community Service Project
Planning your community service project can be made easier once you know the steps involved and guidance on how to get started. Here are three areas to keep you organized, avoid the pitfalls and give you the resources you need for a successful community service project.
Use Good Project Management Practices to Stay Organized
To be successful, break down your project into smaller steps. Then make sure these steps are in the right order.
Start with your deadline for your community service projects and then work backward in planning out timelines.
Estimate Your Needs
Estimate the resources and time it will take to complete each step. You can always adjust later, but you want to have a good idea of what it will take to get to your goal.
Build in Milestones
Include milestones in your plan, along with clear goals and objectives. Reaching milestones can be encouraging for the team, and they will help keep your community service project on track.
Identify the people who will help and assign them tasks to do. Make sure to be aware of the time commitment as well as skills needed (if any). It is okay if you don’t have specific names, yet. You can fill them in later as volunteers and team members come on board.
Plan for the Risks
Take a look at your tasks and access likely risks to completion. Then create backup plans for the most obvious possibilities. For example, what might you do if your outdoor fundraising event gets rained out?
Ongoing Volunteer Recruitment to Ensure Enough Resources
Your community service project will need the right volunteers to be successful. You’ll need to find volunteers who will commit to the project, and keep them engaged and interested.
Create Volunteer Job Descriptions
Create a list of job responsibilities for your volunteer spots. This will help everyone know exactly what is needed and expected.
Alert Your Network
Start with your personal networks to get the word out. Let your friends, family and business contacts know that you have fun and interesting volunteer opportunities available.
Post Your Volunteer Opportunities Online
Post volunteer spots on social media and on free volunteer websites, such as VolunteerMatch.
Interview and Train Volunteers
Volunteers should feel comfortable with the job they have been assigned, and you should feel comfortable with them. Make sure to at least do a quick chat to make sure the opportunity is the right fit, and then support your volunteers with training if needed.
Recruit More Volunteers Than You Need
Even the best volunteers may need to drop out for unexpected reasons. Continue to recruit volunteers to allow for attrition and new unexpected needs that might arise.
Partner with Others for Knowledge and Support
A community service project works best when there are many members of the community available to not just offer hours of service but also knowledge and support. This may be especially critical when a program is brand new.
Find Someone Who Has Done It Before
Reach out to others who have run a similar community service project. Online forums and Facebook groups are great places to ask questions of those who have similar successful community service projects.
Look for Local Business Support
Reach out to the local businesses in your community and ask for support. From sponsoring an event to allowing you to collect donations to helping you make connections, business leaders can be a valuable part of your team.
Partner with Another Organization
Teaming up with another organization can double your impact and provide additional solutions and support.
Ask the local media to support your project with articles and announcements. Learn how to write a press release here.
Talk to Influencers
Bring your project to the attention of local officials, local celebrities and prominent citizens. If they share information about your community service project, you will be able to reach more people who may support your cause.
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