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Taking action Project cycle management for UK and Ireland partners Part 2: Planning what to do Why are aims and objectives important? Defining aims and objectives is important because it helps to provide greater direction and focus for the PlanningTeam, staff members and church membership, as well as a clear understanding of what the project is about to funders, community members and other external organisations. Definitions Aim 1. The aim is the overall purpose or reason for the project. It states how the church will apply its vision for community involvement through responding to a particular issue or addressing a particular need. 2. The aim should be broad, long term, fixed for the project’s lifetime (to change the aim is to change the purpose and direction of the project), helpful in describing the broad project activity and consistent with the church’s vision. 3. Remember, the aim is wider in scope and/or longer-term than an objective. The aim may not necessarily be reached until well after project completion. We need, however, to be careful of over- reaching, unattainable aims. Example Aims: ‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the estate’ ‘To help provide advice and support to the unemployed’ Objectives 1. Objectives are targets set to achieve the overall aim. Unlike the aim they tend to be short term (one or two years in comparison to an aim, which is to last the project’s lifetime). 2. There should be no more than three/four objectives. One or two is a perfectly acceptable number. Limit the number of objectives to that which can be realistically achieved in the project period given the resources! 3. A useful rule of thumb is “do not set an objective unless indicators can be agreed which will offer evidence that the desired solution or change has been brought about, and unless those indicators can be measured.” Remember objectives are the changes the project hopes to bring about among the project beneficiaries. To specify the objectives, use the infinitive verb forms: “To increase …” “To reduce …” “To enhance …” “To improve ... They are often described as SMART: Specific (have clear focus), Measurable (easy to determine when they have been achieved), Attainable (realistic targets rather than impossible ideals), Results-orientated (they focus on results rather than methods or processes), Time-specific (have a clear end date). Examples Example Aim: ‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the estate’ Example Objectives: ‘To ensure 50 elderly people receive a weekly visitor by the end of 2004’ ‘To enable 30 elderly people to attend a social activity outside their homes once a month by the end of 2004’ ‘To provide 30 elderly people with fresh fruit and vegetables each month by the end of 2003’ Defining your aims and objectives Here are some steps that should help you define your project’s aims and objectives: 1. Review the problem tree and ideas of a response from the group. What led the group to recommend particular ideas and suggestions? Was there a key issue or people group that the group is concerned about? Was there a specific community need that was highlighted for the church to consider addressing? 2. Try writing a short phrase that describes what your project aims to do. Try to mention either the issue you are responding to or the people group you want to help. Most aims start with the word ‘To’ and are written in the present tense. 2.Check that your aim is: . consistent with your church’s vision statement . broad (is not too specific) . long term (will not change during the project’s lifetime) . helpful in describing the broad project activity. 4. Try drafting some objectives that will help you to fulfil the project aim. Make sure the objectives are SMART . Outputs Try to focus on which tasks you will need to complete in order to meet this particular objective. The tasks then be broken down into activities which can be delegated to individual volunteers or staff Activities These too need to be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound. List activities in brief – just enough to outline the strategy for achieving the outcomes and objectives For projects with a funding period of more than one year, specify which activities will be carried out during the first year and which cover the whole project period (this will help with monitoring). Try to specify activities starting with the word “by”: e.g by constructing … by holding … by developing … by distributing … by training … Include details of timing and quantity e.g. “By holding 3 workshops of two days duration for 30 participants… Putting it altogether in the planning tree You may find it helpful to think through the diagram below to help work out how you will take your idea forward. Think of your aim as the main trunk of a tree. It should be broad, long term and state how the church will apply its vision for community involvement. Your objectives are targets set to achieve your overall aim; think of these objectives as main branches stemming out of your aim. They tend to be short term (set for one or two years rather than the project’s lifetime), flexible and SMART . Your outputs tell you what you need to do in order to meet your objectives. They often read like completed work packages. Think of these outputs as smaller stems growing out of your objective branches. Finally, your activities are a breakdown of your outputs into very precise time-scheduled things you need to do. Think of your activities as the leaves of the tree growing out of the output stems. The diagram below and the worked through example should make this clearer and help you to draw up your own planning tree. Structure of the project Aim To improve the well being of the elderly on the estate Objectives 1.0 To ensure 50 per cent of the elderly on the estate receive a weekly visitor by end 2004 2.0 To enable 30 elderly people to attend a social activity outside their homes once a month by the end of 2004 3.0 To provide 30 elderly people with fresh fruit and vegetables each month by the end of 2003 Output 1.1 Recruit and train volunteers 1.2 Identify elderly people who would benefit from weekly visitor 1.3 Volunteers visit the elderly Activities 1.1.1 Alan to organise a visitor recruitment schemeby 01/03/04 1.1.2 Barbara to establish a screening programme by 01/04/04 1.1.3 Barbara to develop and run a training course by01/05/04 Structure of the project Aim The aim should be broad, long term, fixed for the project’s lifetime describing the broad project activity and consistent with the church’s vision. Objectives Objectives are targets set to achieve the overall aim. Try to keep your objectives SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-orientated, Time-specific). Outputs Try to focus on which tasks you will need to complete in order to meet this particular objective. Activities Now try to think even smaller! What activities will you have to undertake in order to make your outputs happen? Knowing you have made a difference!: Indicators Ask yourself: How will we know if progress is (or is not) being made? How will we know when the project has achieved the intended outcomes (results)? This will help define some useful indicators. There two types of indicators qualitative(numbers and things you can count), and quantitative(descriptions and coments of attitudes, values, behaviours) 1.Indicators can be quantitative for example: For example in working with old people there are a range of numerical figures you can count such as: Number of visits to/by GP Number of people elderly person talked with over a week, month, 3 months. Number of fresh fruit and vegetable portions consumed by elderly person over a set period or in the case of youth work you could measure Number of young people attending an alternative curriculum programme every week Number of successful projects completed by the young people 2.Indicators can be qualitative for example: These indicators try to look at changes in attititude , behaviour, socal patterns For example in measuring the quality of visits to elderly people, some useful example comments would be: . ‘Theyjust seem to rush in and out. Got no time for me!’ (Comment by elderly person) . ‘I seem to have really got to know Mary (the visitor) and her family. It’s as if I’ve got a second family to think about.’ (Comment by elderly person) . ‘Mrs Jones always has the kettle ready when I come to see her. If I can’t manage a visit, she almost always rings to check I’m okay.’ (Comment by volunteer visitor). You could ask your visitors to try to record some relevant comments as well as other things they might see or hear on their visits. • It may be useful to draw up a form for your visitors to fill in after each month. The form might ask them to record comments and descriptions, they see or hear that are of concern, the number of visits they have made to elderly people and any further actions or reflections they wish to make that are relevant to the initiative. • This is because descriptions or comments, which cannot be recorded in numerical form, are enormously helpful in measuring the progress of the project. • By analysing and collating this information clear issues may become apparent, e.g. there are not sufficient volunteers to meet the demand, or elderly people need more help with shopping for fresh produce. And now ask yourself: Do you have an indicator for at least each of the objectives of this project? Proposed template This template may be useful in helping your group think through how to take your idea forward into a planned response. Although the template is fairly detailed, you will find that, if you spend time thoroughly researching and testing your ideas at this early stage, you will save a lot of time later when you come to implementing the plan. Moreover, spending time now means your proposal will be far better informed and likely to inspire greater confidence from the church leadership and congregation. You should find that each column on the template leads you naturally into thinking about the next (see arrows on top line of template). It is not essential that you use this specific template; your group may prefer to use other methods. Aim Your aim should be consistent with your vision and state clearly what you are trying to achieve. For example: ‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the estate.’ Objectives Outputs Activities Resourses Indicators of sucess Try to keep your Try to focus on Now try to think even Use this space to think Here, point to evidence objectives SMART which smaller! What activities through the resources that will show whether (Specific, tasks you will need will you have to you will need in order or not you have Measurable, to complete in undertake in order to complete your achieved your Attainable, order to make your activities. Resources objective. Results-orientated, to meet this outputs happen? could range from: Time-specific). particular objective. people at church with skills, money available from church giving, trusts, sponsorship, events, community agencies, local authority. 1. To ensure 50 per 1.1 Recruit and 1.1.1 Alan to Use of computer, Number of people cent of the elderly on train volunteers organise a visitor access to volunteer applying to be the recruitment scheme management a volunteer estate receive a weekly by 01/03/04 information visitor by end 2004 1.1.2 Barbara to People to help screen Number of people establish a screening volunteers one day undergone screening programme per month programme by 01/04/04 1.1.3 Barbara to Venue for training Number of people develop and run a course, people to recruited as volunteers training course by help run course, and undergone 01/05/04 refreshments.£100 for training course hire of venue. 1.2 Identify elderly 1.2.1 Chris to draw People to help with Information about how people who would up a list of elderly visiting elderly and many and which benefit from weekly people requesting phoning social services elderly visitor visits by 01/06/04 to find out which people require a elderly would benefit weekly most from visits visitor 1.3 Volunteers visit 1.3.1 Alan to About 35 hours Number of elderly the elderly organise meet ups for (phoning elderly people linked with visitors and elderly and visitors) weekly visitor by end of 2004 1.3.2 Chris to 2 days in November. Comments from elderly monitor volunteers Assistant to help Organisation...............................Project............. ........................................... Date.................. Objectives Outputs Activities Resources Indicators of success Try to keep Try to focus Now try to think Use this space to Here, point to your on which even think evidence objectives tasks you will smaller! What through the that will show SMART need activities resources whether (Specific, to complete in will you have to you will need in or not you have Measurable, order undertake in order order achieved your Attainable, to meet this to make your to complete your objective. Results- particular outputs happen? activities. orientated, objective. Resources Time-specific). could range from: people at church with skills, money available from church giving, trusts, sponsorship, events, community agencies, local authority. 1.0 1.1 a b c a b c 2.0 2.0 a b c a b c 3.0 3.0 a b c a b c The ladder check This simple check will help to see whether or not the church’s vision is being worked out in the community response and whether or not all aspects of the team’s plan are consistent. Firstly, start with your vision and work down through your plan asking ‘how?’ at each stage. Then start from the bottom end of your plan and ask ‘why?’ It doesn’t matter if you haven’t categorised your plan into vision, aim, objective etc, so long as it all flows and is consistent. If the plan does not seem to flow, then you may want to go through it again to see if you need to add anything or take anything unnecessary out. See below for an example. Asking how Vision: To show the love of God through word and deed ‘How?’ Aim: By improving the quality of life for the elderly ‘How?’ Objective: By ensuring 25 elderly people receive fresh vegetables every month ‘How?’ Output: By volunteers delivering vegetables to elderly people’s homes ‘How?’ Activity: By recruiting and training volunteers Asking why Activity: Recruit and train volunteers ‘Why?’ Output: So that volunteers can deliver vegetables to elderly people’s homes ‘Why?’ Objective: So that 25 elderly people receive fresh vegetables every month ‘Why?’ Aim: So that the quality of life for the elderly is improved ‘Why?’ Vision: So that the love of God is shown through word and deed Thinking through what we need It may help to do some more thorough brainstorming around your idea’s activities. This should help you to think through all the different resources (or inputs) that are necessary to enable the idea to take shape. This could include people, equipment, money, time, training, venues. The diagram below highlights some of the key questions to ask around the activities of your idea/project. See overleaf for a worked through example. Venues Training People Will we need an Will volunteers/staff need How many volunteers office/hall/meeting place training and support? are needed? to help run our activities? Will training be Who is available and willing Do the buildings we propose ongoing/one-off? to help? to use meet health and Will training be expensive? Do we need to consider safety standards? Do we have any potential employing someone part-time? Do we need easy trainers/experts in the Who will manage the access/parking facilities? congregation/community volunteers and how? Will there be a charge? who might be willing to Do volunteers need to be help train our volunteers? screened/police checked? Activities Equipment Money Time What equipment will How much will each How much time will we need? activity cost? each activity take out of Who will provide this? Does the total cost of the people’s day/week/month? Does the equipment meet activities fit our budget? How can we make sure that health Where can we get extra one/two people don’t become and safety standards? money to help with this? swamped with too many tasks? How much will Who will be responsible Are we being realistic about equipment/usage of for handling money? how long activities will take equipment cost? to implement? Do people need to be trained to use the equipment? Money matters: 20 key questions Do we know what it costs to start up this idea? Do we know what it costs to keep this idea running for one year/two years? What are our minimum operating costs per month? Have we costed activities accurately or have we just roughly estimated? Are there any costs that are highly variable ? Have we compared costs with churches running similar initiatives? Will we have any promotional costs? Will we have research costs? Will we have management and administrative costs? Will we have replacement and repair costs? Do we have sufficient financial skills? Who will control income and expenditure and monitor our budget and how? How will we be accountable for our financial management? Do we have a regular income or fixed pot of money available and will it be enough? How flexible is our money, is part of it restricted to a particular expenditure? Can we access funds from other sources? Where ? Can we make this idea pay for itself (self-financing)? Are income sources likely to decline/increase over the next year/two years? Have we set sufficient money aside for reserves and contingency? How do we feel having answered these questions? SWOT analysis Analysing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats! Fill in the boxes below. Try to highlight what you think are the most important points in each box and spend time discussing these. If you have some major threats highlighted, consider how you can prevent or minimise these. It may be helpful to invite church members who have specific skills and experience in the area of your proposed response to do this exercise with you. Proposal Activity: Strengths: Weaknesses: Opportunities: Threats: What assumptions are we making? If your group has already attempted to write down its aim, objective, outputs and resources (inputs), then this exercise may be helpful. It helps systematically to understand the assumptions connected to the .... Aim, Objective, Outputs Resources and identifies particular areas of concern that may need to be rethought. Once you have looked through this example, try doing this exercise, for your own initiative, on the following page. With each assumption you uncover, you need to ask yourself if it is possible to take steps to make the assumption come true. You may find that in some cases this is not possible. In other words, the assumptions are out of your control. If this is the case you need to consider whether the assumptions jeopardise your initiative’s success. It is also worth going back to your initial research to see whether you uncovered some assumptions there. Assumptions framework Plan Assumption How can we help the assumption come true? Aim: To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the estate 1. Receiving a regular visit from 1. Train volunteers to listen someone will improve elderly carefully to elderly people’s people’s quality of life individual needs and try to meet these 2. Other factors won’t decrease elderly people’s quality of life 2. This is out of our control (e.g. government policies on pensions and fuel) Objective: To facilitate 50 per cent of elderly people receiving a weekly visit by end of 2003 1. Elderly people will want people 1. We cannot force visits on to visit them elderly but maybe we can help them understand how this 2. Elderly people will not be scheme scared or uncertain about can be of benefit to them opening their doors to visitors 2. We could put information through their door before visiting Outputs: 1. Volunteers 1. Enough volunteers can be 1. We need to publicise the need recruited recruited who are willing to for committed volunteers at our and trained go through the screening church and maybe other local 2. Elderly and training churches too identified 2. We need to question other 3. Volunteers visit 2. We know which elderly people people living on the estate elderly are most in need of a visit Resources: 1. Time 1. Volunteers will be willing to 1. We need to ask for a minimum 2. Money commit long term to visiting of 18 months’ commitment from 3. Training an elderly person each volunteer materials 2. We need to research other 2. Enough money will continue sources of income to be available to support 3. We need to invest time finding this scheme key trainers from local churches 3. We will be able to find a good trainer to help the volunteers Plan Assumption How can we help the assumption come true? Aim: Objective: Outputs: Resources: Questions to ask church members and key members of the community It is important to keep checking that church members are supportive of your proposal. It is important to include church members in checking that the proposed response is keeping to the right track as well as asking these questions to people in the community you have spoken with earlier. You may also find it helpful to single out key members of the church and community who have specific skills and experience to answer the questions below. You may want to take time to inform the whole church and/or a section of the community of your proposal and gain their feedback. Questions to ask church members and key members of the community QUESTIONS Comments From your experience, does this proposal meet a real need? Do you think the community as a whole will support this proposal and want to get involved? Do you think this proposal will complement other social action taking place in the community? Do you know of any groups or agencies it would be useful to contact for advice or support? Do you know of any individuals who would be interested in helping us? Do you have any other comments? Action questions It might be useful to include answers to the questions below in your written proposal to the church leadership. You should find these questions a useful checklist for writing a proposal.This is also useful for putting together prayer programme to enable the church to provide prayer support through the life of the project What has to be done? How is it to be done? What is needed? Who will do it? When is it to be done? How long will it take? How much will it cost? What has to be done first? What activities can be done at the same time? What will be done next?
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