Do you see a problem or issue in your community or organization? Are you interested in making some changes in your community or organization? You can use the following five steps to help you guide on your journey toward social change.
1) Assessment: Assessing the community or organization’s needs and resources.
a. What are a community’s resources (finances, people, physical and material resources, structural layout, community map, individual’s time);
b. What are the community’s needs?
c. What organisations are connected to and support this organisation or community?
d. You can use Social Mapping: Asset Mapping and Social Network Mapping. Where are the natural and material assets located; what kinds of natural social networks already exist? What the natural pathways for resources? Where are the highest concentrations of community resources? Where are the areas of lack?
e. Identify community characteristics:
i. Aspects of material culture (dress, architecture, food)
ii. Cultural values, symbols, norms for behaviour, language, beliefs/attitudes
f. For community participation in the assessment:
i. Assure complete voluntary participation
ii. Protect anonymity when you can. If not, maintain rigorous standards of confidentiality.
g. RESEARCH other similar projects to get ideas for how to proceed.
2) Develop goals and objectives: These two are the guiding forces for your entire project. You will need to refer to these for each action you take.
a. After compiling the data from your assessment, you can analyse the results looking for core themes and patterns. Summarise the quantitative and qualitative data in order to discover the needs of the community. Afterwards, write goals and objectives for each of the community’s needs that you are able to address with the current project.
b. Some questions you should consider are: what problems can be reasonably addressed with the current community members and potential collaborators? Is this the right season (literally spring, summer, fall or winter) to tackle this problem? How should we prioritise projects?
3) Planning: In this part, you are answering the question, how can this community be mobilised?
a. Assemble a core team of leaders that will coordinate the entire project. Keep this team relatively small: 4-6 members. The core team needs to be organised, committed and most of all enthusiastic.
b. Create a plan and timeline: Sketch out a time line with appropriate dates, spaced well to accommodate fundraising needs;
c. Make sure your plan meets your goals and objectives; revise if necessary.
d. Create teams (with community organisers, collaborators, and participants) who will tackle specific parts of the project; try to work with individual’s strengths.
i. When contacting collaborators, volunteers and participants, know the culture of your community. Do phone calls work better than email in this situation? Can we use Facebook to organise meetings?
e. Hold regular core team meetings for planning.
a. In pairs, go to local community members, national organisations, local businesses or any other potential funder and ask exactly for what you need; nothing less.
b. Take time to listen to your potential funder; most people want to give; they just want their own story to be heard first.
c. Organise FUN fundraisers, based on the theme of your project, if possible.
5) Take Action: Put your plan into action to meet your goals and objectives.
a. Organise the necessary short-term volunteers and plan for work parties or work sessions, whichever your particular requires.
b. Always have an agenda or work plan and a presider. You need one point-person at each work party or work session who knows the overall plan, someone people can turn to with questions as they arise.
c. Have snacks and water. You can get these donated for your event.
d. If possible, show up with gifts for participants and recipients.
e. Hold ceremonies & rituals (Have a project Launch party, an opening ceremony, closing ceremony, blessing of land, project blessing, any ritual that your project calls for)
f. Keep it fun; You need a ‘fun raiser’ at each work party, someone whose sole job is to keep things enjoyable for the participants.
g. Applaud yourself (send press releases to local newspapers, high schools, churches). Get the word out! And celebrate your community project along the way.
h. Send periodic feedback to participants through Facebook, email, e-newsletters; keep enthusiasm high!
There is one last ingredient that can make your community project especially successful and rewarding: pay it forward. Partner with the community you are serving to look for another community that needs the help of all of you. As part of your community project, together make a donation of money, resources, or time in their direction.
Finally, keep your team energetic with an inspiring mission and message! Come from the heart and the urge to serve and surely social change will come to your community.