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Tips on Starting a Community Service Project

— Youth Service America
Updated on Dec 16, 2008
What's Your Issue? Defining Your Community Needs:

Look through your local paper or talk with friends about a couple of the most important needs facing your neighborhood or community. Write these down along with three things that you can do as an individual or group to help. Better yet, hold a meeting with some of your friends and discuss concerns/issues facing your community.

What Can We Use? Identifying our Resources, Skills, and Assets:

We all have many resources and skills that we can lend to solving a community problem; we just need to identify them. Write down three to six sentences about what resources, skills, or assets (such as other groups, programs, funders, volunteers, etc.) your group brings to the project or that exist in the community to help combat  the selected problem.

What do we want to achieve? Defining your Mission, Vision, and Goals:

Planning a project requires developing a structure that helps organizers define their vision, mission, goals, and strategies. Strategic planning enables young people to “See It”, “Believe it”, and “Build it” (see steps below).

1. First give your project a name.

2. See It—Mission: Write one sentence that describes what your group's long term goal or purpose is in meeting this need. A mission should be a concise statement that reflects what, why and how your group does its work.

3. Believe It—Vision: A vision statement provides a clear description of what success looks like for your project. Complete the following sentence with the ideal vision you have for your community related to this issue: “(Name of group) is working toward the day when…(describe the change you wish to see in your community)”.

4. Build It —Establishing your Objectives and Tasks: Define your short term objectives and describe the specific tasks that you will need to take to achieve the objective. An objective is a specific time-based measurable goal that you work towards Also, be sure to write down the name of who will be the contact person for each task and your deadline for completing the task.

What do we need? Creating your Budget:

Set up a chart: here are suggestions on what to include:

Type of Items Item Description Number of Items Cost per Item Total Possible Sources
Equipment  Lunches 75 $4.50 337.50 hotels and restaurants 
  Rakes 20  $7.00 140.00 hardware stores

Who will support us? Developing your Fundraising Campaign

Make a list of the top groups and sources for you to contact to mobilize the necessary cash or in-kind (donated supplies) resources. Be sure to add as many possible sources as you can think of to help you in meeting your funding goals.

Fundraising Plan:

Set up a chart using the following headings (an example has been provided): 

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