Project Planning

There are fantastic toolkits available, but one of the ones that is most thorough is the toolkit created by WAGGGS with support from FAO and UNICEF called Climate Change: Take Action! The vast majority of the toolkit is applicable to project planning for all kinds of sustainable development projects. Excerpts from the training are below, added to a few additional tools to help.

Once your group has identified and researched a problem, you can begin to plan your activity and set some goals and then form a plan of how to reach those goals. A successful plan of action is one that is developed, implemented and ‘owned’ by young people in partnership with you and other adults in the community. First, your group will need to consider the range of actions they could take and which is likely to be the most effective. Having chosen a specific action, the group will need to develop a plan to implement it.

Part 1: What action should we take?

  • Listing alternatives. Help your group create a list of possible actions they could take to tackle the problem they have identified. What needs to happen to reach their vision? The more options you have, the more likely you will find one that gets around any obstacles.
  • Build on your community mapping as you explore the following questions: What changes need to take place to find a solution to the problem? What can young people do to solve the problem? Are there any obstacles to making a change? What/why? How can the obstacles be overcome?
  • Identify existing projects. It is critical to know what the community has done and is doing to address the problem so that the actions of your group are in line with, and gain the support of, the local community. The following questions may help your group explore this important element of choosing an action: Do you know of any actions that have been taken in the past to tackle the problem you have identified? What about current projects? Do your family or friends know of any projects? Was the project successful? Why/why not? Can you interview any of the people involved to learn more?
  • Identify the most effective action for your group. To do this, you will need to consider your strengths and weaknesses. A SWOT analysis is one possible tool (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Strengths and weaknesses refer to the situation within your group and the resources your group already has, while opportunities and threats are things that are happening outside your group that might support or get in the way of your project.

Part 2: How can we plan to make our chosen action effective? 
Use the ‘5 W’s’ (Who, What, When, Where and Why) as a simple planning activity.

  • What do you want to achieve?

Identify the goals of your action, generally and specifically, for the short and long term. Use the SMART tool to make goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. This will make your project easier to achieve and evaluate. Keep a record of these goals, as they will help you when you come to evaluate your action (see the fact sheet entitled ‘Steps to evaluating a project’).

  • Who do you want to target?

Decide whom you are going to target directly and see if there are others who will also benefit indirectly.

  • Where is the best place to run your project?

Identify where there is the biggest need and the biggest chance of success.

  • When will you run your project and for how long?

Having a realistic timeline will make your project more achievable.

  • Why is your project important and why are you the best group to tackle this problem?

Clearly communicating this to others will help make your project more effective, and will help you target your objectives and activities to achieve them. Make sure your project is relevant to your community.

Part 3: Resource Mapping

Identify key people, resources and skills needed. Your group will need to consider:

  • Influence Mapping: Who can implement the identified action? Who are the people we need to help us? How can we influence them

If this is not you, how can you work with the identified person to carry out the action? Find out more about this person: In what position are they working? What is their background? How might they profit from taking this action?
Who can they influence and who is influencing them? Who could influence them – anyone whose support you can count on?

  • Skill Mapping: This is closely related to mapping the people in power who we may need to influence, but we often need other skills to complete a project.

What skills are needed? Who has the relevant skills and how can we get them involved? Think about things like communications, design, painting for posters, technical skills around waste or water…

  • Resource Mapping: What resources will be required (think about money, technology and other materials)?

If you need funding, how can you get it? Find out if there are funds available from civil society or your government. How can you raise it yourself? This might mean selling baked goods, seedlings, crafts, vegetables, or used goods; setting up a raffle of something a local business can donate; organizing a concert or play and charging an entry fee or asking for donations; taking part in a sponsored walk or run-a-thon; or setting up a recycling program and selling recyclable goods.

  • Timeline Mapping: How long do you need to complete a project?

The aims, objectives, target audiences, financial resources and types of actions chosen will determine your group’s timeline. The timeline may be organized according to the various phases of the project: What do we do first, second, third? What do we do then? Help your group develop a realistic time frame for their activities so that they know what has to happen when.

  • Community Mapping: How else can you engage the community to help on your project?

Slightly different than our community resource mapping, this step should allow you to look at how your community can be involved. Whether or not it seems critical for all community members to participate to achieve your goal, remember that engaging the entire community is an important component of making your activity a success. The more people involved, including all genders, ages, and ethnic groups, the greater the project’s impact will be. If people feel involved in a project, they will be more supportive and may even provide your group with resources and new ideas and help the group get the message out through other networks. You may also be providing members of the community with an opportunity to be heard and to take part.

Ask the members of your group who they think should be involved. Have they thought about partnering with other youth groups and community organizations? This guide was created through a partnership between members of the Alliance of Youth CEOs, and we would encourage you to build such relationships at a local level. What about other schools? Bear in mind that partnerships with the government and other organizations can sometimes provide a source of funding and resources.


Your main role at this stage is to support your group, helping out practically where you can, offering guidance and advice when you are asked for it. You should be aware of the safety of your group: inform participants’ parents of what they will be doing, and highlight to the groups any dangers they may not have seen.

Encourage your group to keep a record of the project as it develops using diaries, journals, drawings, photographs, audiotapes or videotapes. These are very useful when the group comes to reflect on their actions, and can be a great way of communicating about the project to the school, the community and the media.

When things are not going as well as planned, remind your group that it takes time and persistence to get some projects off the ground. They will need to follow up, keep trying, and not be disheartened. Try to connect them with others who have completed similar projects, or reached similar challenges. The collaboration and support will help immensely.


One thought on “Project Planning

  1. Pingback: Community Project Planning « Future We Want

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