The project goal describes the intent or planned impact of the project. The project goal statement can focus on:
- A reduction or resolution of the community condition – the problem that the community identified as preventing them from being able to realize their Long-term Goal
- An increased capacity to reduce or resolve the condition.
Use your steering committee in creating the project goal. Have your committee members ask their constituents (whether they are community members, potential project partners, possible beneficiaries and/or community leaders) about the kind of positive impact they want the project to have on the condition. Committee members should begin those sessions by discussing the condition that the community has documented as wanting to address. Then have your committee members consider:
- What ideas did their constituents have about positive impacts?
- Can this impact completely resolve the community condition?
- Will this impact reduce, but not completely resolve, the identified condition?
- Or will the impact build capacity to address the condition later on?
The steering committee isn’t the only tool that you can use in project goal development. You can also conduct surveys, community meetings and focus groups. But your steering committee probably is the best option. Committee members can visit with their constituents, discuss possible goals, consider which goal is best suited to dealing with the condition and estimate what impact can be achieved within any timeframes set by funding sources.
Committee members could also share information on the resources that were identified through asset mapping work and ask their constituents to factor that information into planning the project goal. That variety of information is difficult to access from those other community involvement strategies.
So for example: In our earlier work we developed a long-term community goal that stated, “All community members will live in decent, affordable housing.” The reason our example community is unable to reach this long-term goal right now is because of our current community condition which was, “Ninety-three of the 127 elders in our community live in sub-standard housing.” After much input from our community constituents, our example steering committee identified that the project goal was to “Develop a site plan and preliminary architectural design for a safe, affordable, continuum of care housing project for our elders”.
This project goal describes an increased ability to deal with the issue of substandard housing for elders. Clearly this one project won’t solve the condition completely, but it will build the organization’s capacity to address the concern.
Defining the project goal is the last project design element that lends itself to extensive involvement of community members. Our next steps in project design move into more technical areas—creating objectives, developing outputs and outcomes, describing organizational capacity and generating a project budget. However, you’ll want to encourage your steering committee members to keep notes on participant comments to be used as we move forward in the project process. Notes on the community’s preferred workplan strategies will help you in developing a project approach that will accomplish the project goal.
- What process do you plan to use in creating a project goal?
- How will you involve community input?
- How will you engage your steering committee and their constituents?
- Do you have potential partner organizations that would be helpful resources in developing the project goal?
- How could you use the project goal statement to assess the level of resources needed, in addition to assets already identified, to support the project?
- Will you need to completely resolve the community condition?
- Will you be able to reduce the community condition?
- Are you building internal capacity to address the community condition later on?