You have registered your association. A group of people sharing the same vision and mission joined the association. You are ready to get to work. But what will you do? How to start?
In 7 steps we will help you to develop a plan. Seven steps that work for new associations with limited funding but also for associations that have already gained some experience and looking to grow! Seven steps that will help you to plan. Seven steps that are requested by most donors if you decide to apply for funding.
These 7 steps follow the 7 sections in the Project Proposal Template downloadable from this website below.
Let’s get started!
5.1. Step 1. Know your context!
Before you start it is really important to understand the context you will be working in. Maybe you want to work with unemployed youth in Tunis? or help to protect the environment in Tunisia? or help small-scale farmers in the South?
Just don’t forget, you are NOT alone.
Governments, other associations, companies, community initiatives are just a few examples of others working in the same area or with the same people that you want to work with. The good thing?! They have often collected lots of information that will help you to understand the situation of the youth, the farmers, the environment, etc.
SO, it’s important to GET TO KNOW THEM! But how?
An easy way to start is to search the internet. A lot of information is available online. Websites like | INS. Give information on how many people live in a certain area, the unemployment rates, statistics on rainfall, etc. Often research is done by other organisations and institutions that explain why certain problems exist and what the root causes are. This information is called secondary data and important to include in writing your plan showing that you know your context!
A second step is to visit and get to know other organisations in the area you work in. Go and introduce yourself or join events organised by others. Explore what others are already doing, what works and what does not work? What gaps are still there?
With the information collected so far you will, little by little, discover what your contribution as association could be. You don’t want to duplicate what others are already doing but bring something new, meaningful and innovative. Maybe it’s a specific area in Tunis that has nothing offered for unemployed youth? Or maybe you identified an explicit opportunity to fight plastic waste contributing to environmental protection?
To finalize step 1 you need to meet with the people that you want to reach. How do they see their own situation? What do they already have and what are their challenges? What solutions do they see? What are their desires and how do they see your involvement in contributing to these desires? Collecting this information can be done in different ways? You could ask people to fill in a questionnaire. Followed by a meeting with a small group representing your target group. Summarize the main findings of this assessments and add it to the plan.
5.2. Step 2. What and how do you want to contribute?
Now you have collected general information in step 1, you need to narrow it down and become more specific. What specific geographical area will you work in? What specific target group and what specific issue (problem) do you want to address? In other words, describe your Problem Statement.
An important side note; aim to be very specific! “Youth in Tunis are unemployed and need jobs” is a very general problem statement. Instead, you could try to narrow it down. “80% of youth in Bab Souika are without jobs and express lack of employment and life skills as a main reason not being able to find work”. The more specific you are the better you will be able to find the right intervention to address the problem.
After you stated the issue (problem) you will need to briefly describe how you can contribute as association to address the problem. Why are your activities bringing change to the situation of the youth, of the environment or the small-scale farmers? Why are offering trainings, workshops, awareness campaigns, or other activities that you come up with leading to the desired situation. IN other words, what is your Theory of Change?
5.3. Step 3. What you will do!
Now you have a very clear and specific idea of the problem/issue you want to address, it’s time to design your intervention. This section is the backbone of your plan. Here you describe your activities, results, and objectives. This tree-step approach (of activities, results, objectives) needs to be logic: the activities you do will lead to results and the results will finally lead to the objectives.
Let’s look like an example at Association ‘Tunis BiKhair’. They decide to work with unemployed youth in Bab Souika:
Tunis BiKhair will recruit three youth workers and give them a one-week training on how to teach Life Skills to youth. They buy materials and equipment for the youth workers and develop a training manual including a 10 week’s life skills training for the youth. At the same time, they sign an agreement with the Youth Center in Bab Souika so we can use their centre to do the trainings. The Youth centre agrees to help find 20 youth that are interested and would benefit from the training. After a month all preparations are completed, and Tunis BiKhair starts the implementation of the life skills training with an opening event to which also parents are invited. In the following 10 weeks the youth come twice a week to the centre to follow a 2-hour session. At the end Tunis BiKhair organizes a Celebration in which friends and family are invited and the youth share and show what they have learned.
In this example there are many different activities which could be listed as follows:
1.1 recruit three youth workers from the area
1.2 provide one week training for youth workers on how to teach Life Skills to youth
1.3 buy materials and equipment for the youth workers
1.4 develop a training manual including a 10 week’s life skills training
1.5 sign an agreement with the Youth Center in Bab Souika
1.6 find 20 youth (by youth center) that are interested and would benefit from the training.
2.1 Organize opening event (including parents)
2.2 Conduct Life Skills session for 10 weeks for the youth twice a week
2.3 Organize a Celebration with friends/ family and youth share/show what they have learned.
After you have listed your activities, you move to formulating the results. So, for example IF we complete all the activities from 1.1. tot 1.6, THEN what will happen:
Result 1: Enhanced capacity to establish youth development programs through Trained local Youth Workers.
For the activities 2.1 to 2.3 the following result could be formulated:
Result 2: Improved life skills of youth and active involvement in civil society.
You can check this by asking yourself. IF we do have an opening event, do the life skills training, etc THEN yes it will lead to improved life skills of youth.
Last step is to state your project objective. So, if you would indeed achieve the two results, what will THEN happen. It’s likely that youth have obtained life skills and have become more active in civil society and motivated to look for work. You can formulate this in an objective like:
The Project Objective is:
To empower youth through youth life skills programs with youth becoming more active citizens.
5.4. Step 4. You are not alone.
In researching your context and describing your activities you have come across different people, groups and organisations. In this section you describe how they are important to your plans. The best thing is to start with the people who directly benefit from your project. Who participates directly in your activities? How will you select them? How will you involve them?
For the youth project for example you could explain how the youth can apply to join the program and that you will select for example 20 youth based on criteria like:
- Youth needs to be between 18 and 25 years old and live in Bab Souika
- Youth have completed secondary school and not enrolled in any study
After you described your direct beneficiaries, you move on to others that might play a role in your plans. You call those groups or people the secondary stakeholders. These are usually governments that you need permission from to do your activities, other organisations that you will partner with or people in the area that might have an influence on the activities. For Tunis Khair for example these secondary stakeholders could be:
- Youth Center; the will provide the training place and help with selecting the youth.
- Local Baladia or Ministry of Youth and Sport: they might need to give permission to the youth center to allow the activities to take place.
- Ministry of Employment: you might want to invite them to one of the sessions so they explain the youth about opportunities of work / training with them.
5.5. Step 5. How you organize yourself.
After you have explored your context and you know what activities you will be doing it is important to think who will be doing all of this? Who will be responsible for planning and coordinating all activities? Who will handle the finance?
In short, you need to set up your project team. Depending on the size and complexity of your project you will have to decide how many people you need realistically. Some typical project staff you might need:
- Project Manager/Coordinator: responsible for the overall implementation of the activities.
- Project Assistant: assisting the project manager with practical support.
- MEAL Officer: responsible for the monitoring of the project
- Finance Officer: taking care of the money and ensuring all is accounted for.
5.6. Step 6. How you measure your impact?
How do you know that you achieved what you wanted to achieve? What indicates that you have been successful with your plans?
It is important to ask yourself these questions BEFORE you start implementing your plans. The easiest way to do is, is to go through your list of activities, results and objectives from the 3rd step. For each of them you indicate what you expect to happen. List all activities and result in a table like below and add for each activity the indicator. For example:
After you filled the second column you move add the tool that you will use. This could be a questionnaire, attendance sheets,
|Activity||What indicates I have achieved it (indicator)||Monitoring Tool needed|
|1.1 recruit youth workers||
|1.4 develop a training manual||
|Improved life skills of youth and active involvement in civil society .||
1.7. Step7. How much does it cost!
The last step is to make a budget for your plans. You can use the Budget Template (you can download it from the website) and follow the next steps:
- Copy the activities from section 3 in the first part of the budget (see Budget example).
- Set a unit and the unit cost for each activity and the total per activity will be calculated.
- After completing the activity costs move on to staff costs. The positions here should match the staff you described in section 5.
- Fill in the transport costs that you expect
- Finalize the budget with the Project Running Costs like rent, communication, etc.