Up to this point, the eventual project that will hopefully bring positive change has been only in concept. We’ve talked about asking the right questions of the right people. We’ve talked about why we need to engage in our community and why our community needs the body of Christ’s active presence. With this next series of blog posts, we will dive into a topic that can be very intimidating to most people: project planning or design. Most people don’t really want to take the time to plan a detailed project. I know my own tendency is just to dive in and make it up as I go. But, as I’ve matured in life, I have come to the realization that this approach wastes time and resources. And in my life, my time, as a mom of three busy kids, is becoming more and more valuable with each passing year. So, let’s take time to learn how to plan!
Proverbs 21: 5
The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty.
The beginning of the planning process is to write a two-sentence project description. This can be the most difficult part of the process, to be honest. How do you fit everything you want to do, all your hopes and dreams for the community, and the obstacles you might face into two short sentences? It isn’t easy, that is why it is SO important!
Crafting Your Project Description
- Start with the need. The need your group or organization will attempt to meet needs to be front-and-center. This will keep you focused on the overall goal and prevent what is called “mission creep” – when a group begins drifting away from its core mission in pursuit of other good things. This is robbing the pursuit of the great with the attainment of the good.
- Next, what other concepts or ideas need to be included? Maybe community partnerships or collaboration with another organization are integral to your success. These need to be included in the project description.
- What is the eventual goal? This should be the main content of the Project Description.
Here is an example of a project description for a simple project:
We will conduct a one day “coat shopping market” in the local community center gymnasium where parents of children attending Learning First After-School Program will be able to use point tickets earned by their student’s behavior, academic performance, or participation in community clean-up days to “purchase” kid’s coats. The coats will be donated by local churches and businesses, or will be purchased with money donated by local community members.
In the example Project Description, you learn that the group will collaborate with a local organization already serving their target beneficiaries and will provide motivation for the families to be actively involved in the organization’s programs. You also learn how the parents will “pay” for the coats they buy for their children. We also learn that other community partnerships and resources will be leveraged: churches, businesses and other community members will be involved. We also learn that the project will only run for one day, a very manageable project for newer community service volunteers. We do not learn how many people they intend on serving, which would be great information but not absolutely necessary as projects grow over time.
By beginning with a clear description, the rest of the planning process can move much more smoothly. A clear description also casts an accurate vision for the way forward. All potential activities can then be evaluated in the light of that two-sentence Project Description.
Question: Do you like to plan or does the thought of crafting a two-sentence Project Description make you want to run and hide? How can you leverage the giftings of others around you in order to make this process simpler?