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.
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.
‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the
‘To help provide advice and support to the
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
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
Time-specific (have a clear end date).
‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the
‘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
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
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
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
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;
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
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
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
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 are targets set to achieve the overall aim. Try to keep your objectives
Try to focus on which tasks you will need to complete in order to meet this particular
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
Ask yourself: How will we know if progress is (or is not) being
How will we know when the
project has achieved the
(results)? This will help
define some useful
indicators. There two types
things you can count), and
and coments of attitudes,
1.Indicators can be
For example in working
with old people there are
a range of numerical
figures you can count
Number of visits
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
2.Indicators can be qualitative for example:
These indicators try to look at changes in attititude , behaviour,
For example in measuring
the quality of visits to
elderly people, some
comments would be:
. ‘Theyjust seem
to rush in and
out. Got no time
. ‘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
. ‘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?
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.
Your aim should be consistent with your vision and state clearly what you are
trying to achieve.
‘To improve the quality of life for the elderly on the estate.’
Objectives Outputs Activities Resourses Indicators
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,
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
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
1.3.2 Chris to 2 days in November. Comments from elderly
monitor volunteers Assistant to help
Objectives Outputs Activities Resources Indicators
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
1.0 1.1 a
2.0 2.0 a
3.0 3.0 a
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
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.
Vision: To show the love of God through word and deed
Aim: By improving the quality of life for the elderly
Objective: By ensuring 25 elderly people receive fresh vegetables
Output: By volunteers delivering vegetables to elderly people’s
Activity: By recruiting and training volunteers
Activity: Recruit and train volunteers
Output: So that volunteers can deliver vegetables to elderly people’s homes
Objective: So that 25 elderly people receive fresh vegetables every month
Aim: So that the quality of life for the elderly is improved
Vision: So that the love of God is shown through word and deed
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?
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?
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
Are there any costs that are highly variable ?
Have we compared costs with churches running similar
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
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
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
How do we feel having answered these questions?
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.
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 ....
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
From your experience, does this
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
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
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
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?