The Project Development Report – Steps 14 and 15

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Over the past few months, I have been interspersing general posts with coverage of the 15 steps involved in building our project idea on paper. This is like our “business plan” for our project. In this post, I will briefly discuss steps 14 and 15.

I have previously covered steps 1-13. Those are:

Step 1: Identify the people you seek to serve.
Step 2: List and describe the unmet primary needs of the people you seek to assist.  
Step 3: Identify the unmet needs your project will seek to address.
Step 4: Investigate and report on the extent to which existing agencies are responding to the needs your planned project will seek to address.  
Step 5: Explain how your plan to assist the category of people you have selected is different from services currently being delivered to these people.
Step 6: Identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
Step 7: Attempt to make improvements in your planned project based on identified weaknesses.  
Step 8: Construct one goal and a few objectives for the program you want to deliver.
Step 9: Identify all important tasks that must be performed in order to make the project a success.
Step 10: Identify staff to perform the important tasks identified above, and explain the division of responsibility. Distinguish between paid staff and volunteers.
Step 11: Determine the total cost of your planned program with detailed breakdowns of costs and documentation of those costs.
Step 12: Identify sources of income with expected amounts for each source (sales, donations, grants, fund raising, any other sources of income).
Step 13: Explain the details of how, once your program is operating, you will periodically document that your objectives are being attained – that your program is accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish.

I would now like to briefly discuss the last two steps, 14 and 15, which involve the Appendix and the Sources Cited sections. Both of these sections are extremely important because they allow us to document earlier parts of our report.

Step 14: The Appendix provides a space for us to share details of information that do not fit in the main body of our report. For example, we might provide we might state only the findings of a needs assessment survey in the main body of our report, but include more details in the Appendix. Also, letters of support from general community members, as well as local authorities could be placed in the Appendix, after referring to these important letters in the main body of the report.

Step 15: The Sources Cited section, of course, is a list of sources from which we obtained information, which allows a reader to locate these sources if desired. This is a type of important documentation different from the Appendix.

My previous blog posts have briefly discussed steps 1-13, and in this post, I mention the importance of these last two steps. By following the above 15 steps, you can build a strong platform from which to launch your social entrepreneurship project.

Please adapt these 15 steps in any way that fits your situation. My hope is that you find some useful suggestions in my outline of these steps.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Grassroots doesn’t get any more grassroots than this

Posted by on Aug 9, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

Youth

Poverty

Many single parent families

Time on their hands

When a Milwaukee youth was in police custody for breaking into a garage, Andre Ellis helped him be released. Andre then offered the youth $20 to work for one hour to pick up litter in the community. The boy showed up with five of his friends at the designated time and place, and each was paid after the work. (This information was provided by a National Public Radio (NPR) report on July 31, 2014.) So started a fascinating grassroots response to a community need.

Is paying kids to pick up litter solving the delinquency problem in this community? No.

Before starting, do we need to construct a full project that is devised to completely solve a problem? No

Is it ok to respond quickly when quick action is needed? Yes.

On this blog site, I have been encouraging people to build a “business plan” for your project idea, what I call the Project Development Report. This is a multi-step process involving details about the community to be helped, as well as details of the project idea.

Andre Ellis initiated action perhaps before he had any plan involving depth, and I applaud him. If we are a part of the community to be helped and we have a thorough understanding of the situation, if quick intervention is needed, we may choose to act quickly.

The project Mr. Ellis has started is a mentoring project much more than a litter cleanup project. Picking up litter is simply the selected activity through which mentoring will occur. I anticipate that other activities that allow mentoring will emerge, but Mr. Ellis chose to start with this simple task. Simplicity is often beautiful.

The radio broadcast in which I heard this story reported that on a recent litter pickup day, 50 youth showed up. That’s a $1,000 payout, and all the money was there because other adults from the community have stepped forward with money and words of encouragement for the youth. Adults are mentoring these youth at the meeting site where litter pickup begins.

I like the simplicity of this social entrepreneurship project. It seems to be an exciting start to eventually a more substantial initiative.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Social entrepreneurship and the fragility of humans

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

I would like to share some simple thoughts of mine that might relate to some of our interests in helping others in need.

I might be wrong, but I view all humans as fragile beings. What I mean is that we all have the potential of breaking , of slipping away from the roles we normally play (such as parent, brother, employee, star singer in the church choir). I believe we all have the very real potential to come crashing down.

Human society is based on most of us very rarely, and sometimes maybe some of us never, slipping away from the roles we are supposed to be performing. Most of us, most of the time, are very strong as we perform our life obligations and opportunities. This is good.

However, through the duration of a life fully lived, there is usually some tragedy, and some of these tragedies temporarily derail us. Some of life’s tragedies bring a storm within us that interferes with the “us” that we normally are. For example, the death of a person very close to us might take the breath out of us and require that we take some time to recover. At other times, other losses might have a similar impact on us.

Although some people seem to give the impression of being a “tough guy” (or gal), I speculate that they aren’t. I speculate that they are very much like the rest of us.

I think that I have faced the fact that I am fragile, and this has had impact on me. Since I know I am fragile, I sense a closeness between myself and those who are suffering. I see myself in those who are suffering, and I believe this is one factor that might encourage social entrepreneurship.

Experiencing difficulty in life is no fun, but how valuable it can be. Even the painful experiences bring something of value. In addition to general learning, difficulty often brings humility.

To those of you who are right now experiencing deep difficulties in life, I encourage you to realize that this situation will probably not continue. To those of you who are highly successful and on top of the world, I encourage you to realize that you will probably sometime experience great difficulty. The good times and the difficult times are equally important parts of life.

I am thankful for the many existing social entrepreneurship projects, and I am thankful for the projects to help others that will exist in the years ahead. People in need helping people in need. This is very special.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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How to innovate

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Social entrepreneurship involves the use of innovation to find new ways to help people in need. Sometimes, innovative ideas come easily, but often, they don’t. So if we know a category of people we want to assist, how do we get innovative ideas?

Some experts believe that people are either born curious and seek new ideas, or they are not. This perspective suggests that genetics determine whether a person is innovative or not. However, I disagree. I believe we can place ourselves in situations that encourage out-of-the-box thinking,

The situation in which one functions on a daily basis seems to have influence on creative ideas. An assembly line job that is not intellectually stimulating, and involves simple, repetitious actions for eight hours a day, is an example of a situation that will probably not encourage innovative thinking. In contrast, other jobs involve little repetition of behavior, and require continual intellectual challenges. I believe these situations, that require an active mind to survive in that kind of environment, encourage innovative thinking.

My point is that the situations in which we live can influence innovative thinking. Although genetics may be an important factor, situation is also important in encouraging or discouraging creative ideas.

If you want to be more innovative in your quest to become a social entrepreneur, here are my suggestions.

1. Learn all you can about the category of people you want to help. (This is extremely important, for it is the content to which innovation will be applied. Deep understanding of the people you seek to assist is crucial.)

2. Try to continually have these people in some level of your consciousness. You are seeking a new approach to assisting them.  Try to have them on your mind at least a part of every day.

3. When the opportunities present themselves, place yourself in unusual environments. Seek stimuli that you normally do not experience. The purpose is for you to “see” an association between ideas you previously have not seen – and that perhaps nobody else has ever seen.

Examples of placing ourselves in different situations include:

A. Take different routes to work and home. Watch the different surroundings closely. Think about the people and situations you observe.

B. If you listen to a certain type of music, listen to something different.  If you like rock music, listen to country western (and vice-versa). Carefully listen to the words and emotions being expressed.

C. If you listen to conservative talk radio or TV, listen to liberal talk radio or TV (and vice-versa). Absorb ideas represented. Try to feel what the people talking are feeling. Try not to be judgmental. Try to understand the ideas different from your ideas.

D. If you watch a certain type of movie, watch some that are different than you would normally watch.

These are just suggestions. Maybe the above ideas are too much of a sacrifice for you. If so, I understand. Our personal life is sometimes a refuge, and we don’t want to toy with what helps us recharge to be able to face the next day. But if you are willing to step away from your refuge, growth will likely occur.

When I am working on a project related to my work at my university, I have difficulty not thinking about it. It seems to always be on my mind, sometimes floating back in some deeper consciousness, but always not far from my primary focus. Two of my new ideas found in the last few years came when I was listening to shows to which I normally don’t expose myself.

One was a show on the operation of a motor, and the other was a cooking show. Separated by several months, I had “ah-ha” moments. All of a sudden, I saw an association between the operation of a motor and the issue I was struggling with associated with my project. In another situation, I had an idea about a project on which I was working that was stimulated by how ingredients came together to make a cake.

Having innovative ideas is not often easy. My suggestions above can be fun, and maybe they will be helpful. I hope so.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A reflection on this blog that started 3 years ago

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

It was about this time three years ago that, with the help of some kind people at my university, I started this blog. I’ve missed posting maybe five or six weeks over those three years, and although I have stressed on some weeks, mostly this blog has been fun.

In the beginning, an IT person was available when a technology problem emerged, but the original person left my university, and I have no IT assistance now. The new person in that position recently responded to me in an email after I requested help, “I don’t have the bandwidth to help you.” That was his creative way to tell me he is too busy with other obligations, which I understand.

I’m pretty much on my own now, but a friend of mine and I are talking about him helping me with the blog. He is a social entrepreneur with a strong spirit and a good mind. I hope to be sharing more about this possible development soon.

The main reason I have had fun with this blog is that there is so much social entrepreneurship work to do in our world. Thus, I perceive possible value in what I write. Social entrepreneurship is using innovation to find new ways to help others in need, and there is need in every direction I turn. The need I see is close to me, as in my community, and far from me, as on other continents. The need is anywhere there are people.

My excitement for this blog and the work it promotes is increased because of my interaction with my students. In my normal university teaching, I am in contact with around 400 students a year taking my courses in grant proposal writing. In addition, I have around 40 students a year in a course on social entrepreneurship. These students share with me their excitement to help others, and this brings me strength. I guess we encourage each other.

I am also energized by hearing from people who are starting social entrepreneurship projects or want to start these projects. I think our world is on the verge of an explosion of social entrepreneurship work, as many nations experience an expansion of their middle class – people who have skills, some extra money, some free time, and often a desire to help others.

I have lived for 65 years, and I have never found any of my other pursuits to have the potential for such meaningful impact on others. Social entrepreneurship work is a win-win-win situation. First, we help the people for whom we build the projects. Second, we strengthen our society by strengthening people within our society. Third, we bring meaning to our lives as builders of projects to help others.

Wow.

I feel so fortunate to have had the experiences that have brought me to this blog. In addition to my training and study (that bring me understanding of program development and grant writing), I am thankful for some difficult times in my life that have brought personal growth and greater compassion for others.

If a few readers of this blog have found something of value, this makes me happy. I plan on continuing to write, hoping I stumble onto something that has meaning to some people.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Step 13 – Project Development Report

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Hello. I am continuing brief discussion of the 15 steps in the Project Development Report, which is a document I encourage everyone to write before starting any project to assist people in need.

I had previously covered steps 1-12. Those are:

Step 1: Identify the people you seek to serve.
Step 2: List and describe the unmet primary needs of the people you seek to
assist. 
Step 3: Identify the unmet needs your project will seek to address.
Step 4: Investigate and report on the extent to which existing agencies are responding to the needs your planned project will seek to address.  
Step 5: Explain how your plan to assist the category of people you have selected is different from services currently being delivered to these people.
Step 6: Identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
Step 7: Attempt to make improvements in your planned project based on identified weaknesses.  
Step 8: Construct one goal and a few objectives for the program you want to deliver.
Step 9: Identify all important tasks that must be performed in order to make the project a success.
Step 10: Identify staff to perform the important tasks identified above, and explain the division of responsibility. Distinguish between paid staff and volunteers.
Step 11: Determine the total cost of your planned program with detailed breakdowns of costs and documentation of those costs.
Step 12: Identify sources of income with expected amounts for each source (sales, donations, grants, fund raising, any other sources of income).

I now want to briefly discuss Step 13: Explain the details of how, once your program is operating, you will periodically document that your objectives are being attained – that your program is accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish.

Documenting what we say we will accomplish is very important. One of the early steps for any social entrepreneurship project should be to state one or a few objectives (Step 8 above), and those objectives are very important for Step 13.

Objectives are statements of intent, what we intend to accomplish. The strongest objectives always focus on client outcomes, how our clients benefit from our project. (Please feel free to refer to my earlier blog post on Step 8 in the Project Development Report, in which I provide some details about how to state strong objectives.)

For Step 13 of your Project Development Report, you should explain in detail how you plan to test your objectives after your project has been operating for some time. The first key to Step 13 is to start with well stated objectives. The second step is to explain specifics of what will be done to test the objectives, when it will be done, and who will take these responsibilities.

One benefit to taking the time to write a strong, detailed section on how you will test your objectives is that you can use much of this writing in grant proposals you will likely write. When you seek grant funds, many funding sources will require that you have a section in your proposal that explain in detail how you plan to test your objectives.

So in addition to Step 13 in the Project Development Report helping you think about this important issue as you build the details of your project idea, much of this writing will likely be used later.   

Many small and mid-sized nonprofits do not understand the details of testing high quality objectives. If you construct strong objectives that focus on client outcomes and plan appropriate details of how you will test those objectives, you will be exceeding the somewhat low standards of many existing nonprofits.

Thank you for reading my small blog. 

Best regards. – Keith 

                                                        © Keith Campbell

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Step 12- Project Development Report

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

 Hello, readers. Thank you for taking the time to follow any part of what I write in this blog. I am simply trying to share ideas, some of which I hope you will find to have some value.

A few weeks ago, I stepped away from covering the 15 steps in writing an important document, one that helps us “see” various strengths and weaknesses in our project idea. I call this document the Project Development Report, which is similar to a business plan. I need to return to these steps to finish a brief discussion of all 15 steps.

I had previously covered steps 1-11. Those are:

Step 1: Identify the people you seek to serve.
Step 2: List and describe the unmet primary needs of the people you seek to assist.              
Step 3: Identify the unmet needs your project will seek to address.
Step 4: Investigate and report on the extent to which existing agencies are responding to the needs your planned project will seek to address.  
Step 5: Explain how your plan to assist the category of people you have selected is different from services currently being delivered to these people.
Step 6: Identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
Step 7: Attempt to make improvements in your planned project based on identified weaknesses.
Step 8: Construct one goal and a few objectives for the program you want to deliver.
Step 9: Identify all important tasks that must be performed in order to make the project a success.
Step 10: Identify staff to perform the important tasks identified above, and explain the division of responsibility. Distinguish between paid staff and volunteers.
Step 11: Determine the total cost of your planned program with detailed breakdowns of costs and documentation of those costs.

In this post, I would like to briefly comment on STEP 12: Identify sources of income with expected amounts for each source (sales, donations, grants, fund raising events, any other sources of income).

Obtaining adequate funds for your project will probably be one of the most difficult tasks. I assume that not securing adequate funds is the main reason that nonprofits fail.

I encourage everyone to start small projects in the beginning. Small projects are easier to start and manage. Starting small requires less money than starting big. If you are successful starting small, then you can become big when the time is right.

Step 12 depends on our speculation about money brought to the cause, and we might have a tendency to be optimistic. After all, we are excited about the project idea, and we may expect others to become excited. But we can’t assume that others will be so excited that they will give money. Donors might be few, and grant funding agencies might find other projects to fund.

Is there a way for you to conduct a survey to determine if people will donate money? If this is possible, the information would be useful. For example, if several people who are members of the same church are starting a project to feed inner city homeless, they could probably conduct an anonymous survey of church members to get an estimate of donations. In many situations, however, there is no handy organization that will be sensitive to our cause and allow us to conduct a survey. 

Another idea to counteract our possible over-optimism is to ask a few people we know to help us estimate money brought to our project.

One idea that is too often overlooked by nonprofits is to sell something. Can clients create any item for sale? Youth programs might sell a craft or art created by some of the clients. Some nonprofits run thrift stores to supplement donations and grants. Our creativity can be important at this stage of our project planning. Depending only on grants, donations, and fund raising efforts is a weaker position than generating some income from sales.

Small. Start small…just a suggestion.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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