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Tips on Starting a Community Service Project

A successful community service project is the result of clear objectives, thoughtful planning and coordination, savvy use of resources, and follow-through.

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 you 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 you 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: Define your short-term objectives and describe the specific tasks that you will need to accomplish 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 the contact person for each task and your deadline for completing the task.

What do you 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 TotalPossible Sources
EquipmentLunches75$4.50337.50hotels and restaurants
Rakes20$7.00140.00hardware stores

Who will support you?

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):

Possible SourcesSource NameContact PersonDue Date
MarriottJane Doe1.202.555.1234 x0012/31/200_
COSTCOJohn Doe1.202.555.2345 x0012/31/200_

Roles and responsibilities

Creating your coordinating committee and advisory committee

Make a list of who in your group is in charge of what areas of project coordination. In addition, list some adult allies that can serve as advisors to your project. (See example below.)

LeadersCoordination AreaContact InformationEmail
MelissaFood202.555.3456[email protected]
JeremyEquipment202.555.4567[email protected]

Generating publicity and buzz

Create your press release and/or media story

Make a list of the top contacts at different radio, TV, and newspapers/magazines in your community. Be sure to identify the various editors (City Editor, Assignment Editor, Feature Editor, Photo Editor, Editorial Page Editor, etc) as well as their deadlines. (See example below.)

TypeContact PersonE-mailWhat they needDue DatePerson Responsible
TVMarcia Smith[email protected]press release3 weeks before eventOlivia
PaperJim Jones[email protected]press release2 Sundays before eventChris

Mobilizing community support

Getting people involved in the actual project event

Publicize, Advertise, Mobilize. Get the community interested in your event by creating flyers, posters, etc. and soliciting their help in making your project happen. Recruitment can happen through handing out leaflets, postering in high visibility areas, and word of mouth.

Are you making a difference?

Evaluating your Impact
  1. Create your list of measurable “process” and “impact” indicators related to your goals as well as how and when they will be measured
  2. Defining Process indicators: A “process indicator” is a measure of something that you do as part of achieving your goal.
  3. Defining Impact indicators: An “impact indicator” is a measure of what about the situation or condition has changed.

Reflecting on what you did

It is important to talk about and reflect upon our service experience in order to learn lessons that will make our work even stronger. Create a list of reflection questions and ways that the reflection will be carried out.

Celebrating and recognizing your efforts

List the steps you will take to celebrate your project and who is responsible for each part.

Method for CelebrationResources NeededPerson Responsible
Recognition CertificatesPaper, Computer for PrintingJanet


You’ve completed your project plan. You’re on your way to helping change your community.