Network of African Youths for Development - 'Together is better'
Actiontoolkit - Preparation - Make a plan

Try to prioritise your ideas according to the needs of your community. Have your team vote on this - it will help them feel “ownership” of the decision-making process. Write up the needs highlighted by your research then prioritise them in order of urgency i.e. What is the thing that absolutely has to be addressed immediately? Once you have identified your priority need, it’s time to get creative! Think about how youth can solve the problem or at least how you can make the effects of it more bearable for the people in your community. Consider ideas from your research. Think laterally across a problem - come at it from different angles. What are YOU going to do about it? If you absolutely cannot think of an achievable project that can help address the first priority need, then move on to the next need or the next until you find one that you all think you can usefully address. Don’t give up!Africa scene

What makes a good project idea:
Achievability: Make sure your project ideas are within your powers to complete successfully. If you feel an idea can’t be done, then try a different approach. For example, if your priority need is for electricity, building a power station is probably beyond your competence. However, you could build a wind generator hooked up to batteries. That’s an achievable project goal!
Relevance: It essential that your project’s main goal will address a priority need. A common mistake is to start a project that is exciting without clearly thinking how it will help improve your community.

To help you figure out if your project is going to work or not,do a S.W.O.T.analysis. This will allow you to measure your project’s Strengths: The people, skills, facilities and equipment that you have.
Weaknesses: What limits your actions (e.g. lack of skills, equipment, local facilities)
Opportunities: Possible ways to build or add strengths and lessen weaknesses.
Threats: Possible events that could weaken your organisation and so should be avoided.
By getting your team to write down the S.W.O.Ts of your idea/organisation,you can get a clearer idea of where you are now and whether your project idea is realistic and acheivable.

Make sure you are able to give a clear step-by-step explanation of how your project will address the need. A web-based educational group, for example, may be more exciting to set up than community classes. However, it would not be of any use in a community with limited internet access. Originality: Be prepared to think of new ideas. While an idea must first be relevant and achievable, it helps to be Egretsbold and inspiring, especially for catching the attention of funders and development professionals. So try to think of ideas that are different and innovative. Having said this, tried and tested means can sometimes be a safer method. You may be able to combine the two by being the first in your area to use an idea from abroad. Do what is right for you, and don’t be afraid to be different. Fleshing out the project: So you have an idea! It is your “Project”! Well done! Now break it down into all of its component parts to build a workable programme. You can use these pointers to help you: each of them will be explored further in the Take Action and Follow-up sections: Your Team: Who, what roles and
where will responsibility lie?
Your resources: Why are you collectively capable of taking on this project?
Your supporters: Who in your community can offer assistance in the form of finance, goods in kind, experience or ideological support?
Estimated time frame: How much time do you have to complete the project?
Estimated costs: How much will this project cost?
Evaluation method: How will you record and measure your project’s success?
Simplicity: Ask straightforward questions.Avoid undefined time definitions such as ‘sometimes’or ‘usually’. Different perceptions will confuse your answers. Instead stick to defined time frames such as ‘everyday’. Avoid leading questions: Keep questions neutral.Remember you are trying to find out the views of the participants, not trying to impose your views on them.
Clarity: Try and focus your question on a specific issue rather than general ideas.If you make your questions too broad,different issues will get lumped together and will be impossible to break up.
Relevance: Don’t ask questions just because they might be interesting.Stick to the issues you wish to tackle.
When you are designing a questionnaire,think about:
Setting milestones. Now breakdown your project idea into a set of realistic goals. Divide the goals into short-, medium- and long-term SMART Targets. Your targets should be practical, step-by-step and allow you to focus on one thing at a time. Use your SMART targets to make a clear plan of action, scaling down from your overall goal and highlighting pitfalls and obstAfrica sceneacles. This will give you an overview of the entire project.
Creating SMART Targets.
SMART targets are:
Specific – Precisely state what is to be acheived.
Measurable – Have clear criteria for completion.
Achievable – Have all the resources to complete the task.
Realistic – Can be completed within the time-frame and budget.
Time related – Have a clear date/deadline for completion.

Example: Digging a well. A bad target is: “We will dig a hole.” A SMART Target is: “We will have dug a 2m diameter wide, 1m deep hole by the 12th October.” This SMART target specifically states what is to be done, how it can be measured and when it will be completed. How achievable it is depends on whether you have sufficient resources and personnel to do the job within the time-frame. Always think about the time frame when you are setting the target dates.
Also, be sure to set up a process to evaluate your progress and see how far you have progressed every step along the way.

Think about the following tips when you are conducting interviews:Be Confidential. Be personal, friendly and place the interviewee at ease. Allow the interviewees to fully express their views. Make sure you record the interview or take notes so you have information to refer back to later.Try to end the interview on a light note and always remember to thank your interviewees.It will leave them feeling valued and useful. Remember,you may want to engage their help on your project in the future!

Africa sceneMind mapping is one popular method of generating ideas. It can be done alone or with a team and is an excellent tool to help you put your thoughts in order. Take a whiteboard or large piece of paper. In the centre, write the main point you want to address and circle it. As you have a thought about the issue, draw a line out from the circle and write it down. This thought might be an idea about how to solve the problem or an observation about the problem. If you have a point about this new thought, then draw a line out and write down this new thought and circle that too. As the map grows you will be able to see lots of ideas and how they relate to your central issue. Write down everyone’s ideas. Seemingly silly ideas can often spark better ones and the more ideas you have the more opportunities you have to create a great project. You can always discount the irrelevant ones later. Use other people’s ideas as inspiration for your own.Feel free to develop,or make points based on another’s idea. Encourage participation from everyone - everybody will think of different things,which will lead to an eclectic and well developed mind map.

Documentation - For your organisation’s future, it is extremely important to learn how to document every step.Keeping a record is useful when tracing the progress of a project,and keeping a log of who said and did what is invaluable when conflicts or confusions arise. Try to keep track of the following:
Finance: budget and financial report form
Receipts and invoices
Correspondence: copies of all letters& faxes; a summary of all phone calls
People management: Work schedule
Networking: names & contact numbers
Research: interview notes; your team member’s observation notes
Legal agreements: contracts signed

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