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Groundwork's top ten tips for creating a successful community project

Posted on 10 January 2018

Do you want to do something different in 2018? 

How about MAKING a difference in your local community?  

Check out our ten top tips for creating a successful community project or click here to download the PDF document. 

You can also take a look at our Community Project Toolkit website for a more detailed overview, including all the tips and advice you need to get started. 

1. Get organised

Turning your kitchen table talk into proper plans will be easier if you’re a constituted group.  It’s a simple process and you can get help and advice on how to do it.  Most funders will only award money to constituted groups.

2. Get the council onside  

They may not be able to give you much money these days but they can help you in lots of other ways in terms of advice, permissions and publicity.  Make your local councillor your best friend.

3. Do your homework  

If your project involves land or buildings then you’ll most likely need permission and advice about regulations.  You could also research the history of your area to maximise your project’s heritage potential and to build on the pride and knowledge of local residents.

4. Go for strength in numbers 

Check if there’s a local group or charity already active in your area that you could join forces with.  You might also design your project so that it interests local schools, hospitals, faith groups or uniformed organisations who all support social action in their communities.

5. Give everyone a stake 

Good community projects will harness the knowledge, skills and networks of everyone in the area.  Young people can be champions on social media, parents can link with the local school, faith groups can raise funds, older people can pass on skills.  Having a mixed group of volunteers will ensure other people don’t see you as a self-serving clique.

6. Go with the seasonal flow 

Piggyback on festivals and awareness days to drive interest in your project and get some expert advice on when and how to do things e.g. build gardens over the winter ready for people to enjoy in the better weather.

7. Appeal to business

More companies are embracing the need to be seen to be responsible citizens.  Many will provide materials or labour in the form of volunteers and some will offer their professional skills to help but don’t forget to give them something back in terms of public recognition.

8. Consult, consult, consult

It may seem like the more people you ask about your project the more different answers you’ll get but it’s worth the time and effort – the more people who feel a sense of ‘ownership’ over the project the more likely it is to work – and stand the test of time.

9. Think about the end at the start

A lot of good projects never reach their full potential because not enough thought was given to how to sustain them beyond the initial enthusiasm.  Think about how to recruit volunteers, how to identify opportunities for income or enterprise and how to recruit younger supporters who can carry on your good work.

10. Make it fun and productive 

Most people engage in community projects because they meet new people and find it personally rewarding.  Make this part of the deal by giving people roles that work around their other commitments, enhance their CVs or build their social networks – and don’t forget to celebrate your achievements.

You can also check out our inspiring Groundwork Community Award winners from 2017. Could you be picking up the gong in our 2018 ceremony later this year? Click here to find out more

Watch Irene's inspiring film to see how to she transformed the outside area of the estate where she lives.