Have you wondered how to set up a youth club or organise a community fun day? What's that thing you've always wished was available in your community but didn't know how to make it happen? If you're passionate about the needs of other people and want to utilise local support to meet them, this post will inspire you to take action, help you think about ways to do that and offer some tools to assist you.
With any community initiative there will be a few main things you'll need to consider when you plan your project:
Who needs to be involved in planning it? eg. parents, your friend the sports coach
Who needs to know that it's happening? eg. local authority, schools, parents
Who will it benefit and how? eg. local children, try to be specific but not restrictive
Who will deliver it? eg. your friend the sports coach, volunteers (and where you'll find them)
Where and when will it be held?
What activities will take place and what do they involve?
What equipment will you need and where will you get it from?
How will you fund it?
What other support do you need?
How will you promote it?
I've put together a simple project plan template to help you work through these points and more. Get it now for free through the Resources page
You'll want to think about how you can make the project sustainable, if it's not a one-off event. You might have a venue and food given in-kind or donated for the first event or sessions, but what about long-term? Will you charge for certain activities in order to create a revenue that goes back in to the project? Will you seek out one-time or long-term funding opportunities? If you're UK based, www.fundingcentral.org.uk is a good place to find community project funding grants.
Use Your Strengths
Think about the skills and interests you have as well as those of the people around you who can help you get your community project up and running. What are you good at and how can that shape your project? Recognise where you might struggle and involve other people who can help.
If you don't already have a project in mind, read on for some inspiration about what you could do and how to do it.
What you'll want to do first is identify a need- a problem you can solve. Spend a little time looking at local statistics and researching what kind of things are already available. Keep in mind your own strengths and interests that we mentioned earlier!
Once you know what problem you're going to solve, explore ways to address it. Your project might be something like a youth club, and your research has proved that it's not already available, or perhaps not accessible to the demographic you're targeting.
Aim to plan your project thoroughly, talk to the right people and make sure everything is in place. This project plan template will help you to identify everything you need to do.
Don't Forget The Details
Some other important things to think about are accommodating dietary and accessibility requirements, allocating prayer times and spaces if necessary, and making sure you can meet the needs of your beneficiaries in different ways during the project.
Necessary checks of criminal record history may be needed if working with young people or vulnerable adults. For some projects you'll want to make sure you have First Aiders, and might want to look into getting basic certifications in areas like Safeguarding or Food Safety.
Now here's your list of 13 community project ideas you can get started with today.
1. Food bank
For this you'll need somewhere to store the food, an effective way of accepting and collecting donations, and a dignified way of advertising the service and giving food parcels to people who need them.
2. Youth club
Location and timings are really important with any activity aimed at young people. You'll want to build trust with and promote the club to parents as well as the young people who will attend. Think about structured activities and how you can make the club affordable but sustainable.
3. Coffee morning
This could be aimed at older people and provide a simple social setting or offer additional help and support. Signposting and partnering with local services are two ways of involving an element of targeted support.
4. Women's (or men's) group
Similar to the coffee morning, this may mainly be a social setting but specifically for women. Once you have regular members you can explore what they want to do as part of the group- this could be learning a new skill (that one of your members could teach), day trips, or having external speakers come in to speak on a topic.
5. Arts/crafts/sports activities
Unlike the youth club, these activities would be specific, probably have a more narrow age range and could even be for adults. You'd need to think about appropriate locations for the activities you want to deliver, particularly if it's for sports. You can easily make a revenue from activities like this, charging per session or for a block of sessions. These funds could cover costs of venue or coaches, or go back in to the project in other ways.
6. Community pantry
The concept of a community pantry is to have a designated, accessible place where people can leave food with a long shelf-life (like tinned food) or other essentials for other people in the community to access. People take what they need and donate when they can. It would need maintenance but the idea is that once it's up and running it works without having to micromanage it.
A gardening project could involve training a particular demographic (teenagers, or unemployed people, etc. ) in basic skills and then they can practice those skills by volunteering to do people's gardens in the neighbourhood. You'd have to source equipment and you could provide certificates for those who complete the training.
8. Litter pick
Everyone can get involved in a litter picking project! Decide on where it will take place and advertise for volunteers. Local authority are sometimes able to provide the equipment that you'll need, and you can get bright coloured bibs so you can easily identify all your volunteers.
9. Fun day
A fun day usually means lots of different activities all available at the same location with an emphasis on catering to children. You could have a bouncy castle, arts and crafts, some sports activities, cake decorating, video games, and of course lots of food and refreshments. You could offer stalls for a small fee so people can come and sell their own items or promote their own activities and services too.
10. Talent show
So many young people want the opportunity to showcase their talents and aren't able to access traditional routes in performing arts. To have a successful talent show it needs to offer a substantial follow-up (or at least the chance of one) which could be in form of a prize or having special guests from the relevant industries in the audience.
11. Film club
Decide your niche and/or target audience, your dates, location, and ticket price. Source you're equipment, promote your event and you're good to go!
12. Book club
Book clubs usually meet meet monthly to discuss a selected book that members have been reading the month prior. It's good to have a theme and you could even meet in a cafe (for free!)
There's always a charitable cause to raise money for, whether it's for a local or international campaign. You could collect toys and funds to donate to a local children's hospital or sell cakes to raise money for a larger charity. Organising sponsored activities to raise money is another option. With any fundraiser, it's important to find ways to make people really believe in your cause so that they want to support it, get personal and try to humanise the situation rather than offering generic information.
Do any of these ideas take your interest? Or do you have your own community project in mind? Join our Facebook group for support and don't forget to grab your free project planner from the Resources page (you'll have to subscribe for free to get your password if you're not already a subscriber) and start working on your community project today!