While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices.
We encourage you to incorporate the following elements into your service project:
- Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort
- Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals
- Celebrate your successes together
The Challenge: Many community-based organizations do not have enough capacity to manage a large number of volunteers, so they need you to organize yourself in coordination with them. This tool kit is designed to either help you organize a group and be a positive addition to a community-based organization, or, if such an organization does not exist, to be a well-organized independently-run group that fills a needed gap in the community.
Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started and executing service activities:
Step one: Identify local needs
No one knows your community better than you and your neighbors do. This summer, take proactive steps to address the challenges you see daily and generate solutions that work in your neighborhood. Whether you and your team decide to partner with the local library to refurbish reading rooms or to organize meal distribution at a community center, you already have the resources you need to get started.
- Find out what’s already happening in your community. If you see a service gap, consider creating your own project.
- Brainstorm with friends and local leaders about what your community most needs.
- Conduct a needs assessment by mapping resources, holding focus groups, or distributing a survey.
Step two: Build a team
Teams can help share the work, motivate members, and hold each other accountable. Teams build community. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and faith group members to serve with you.
- Host a house meeting or pot luck to choose a project, set goals, recruit volunteers, and plan next steps.
- Post your service activity on Serve.gov to recruit new volunteers.
Step three: Set a goal
Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. Commit as individuals and as a team to making a measurable impact. Set your goals high to stretch yourself. Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through.
- Get a guide for setting goals.
Step four: Serve your community
The key to effective service is planning. Organize your materials, make confirmation calls and, if you have time, read supplemental materials before you volunteer.
- Get a tip sheet for your service activity.
Step five: Report and celebrate successes
Your team members, the community, and the President want to know about your successes and hear your stories. Share your accomplishments by reporting your results. We will highlight the best stories throughout the year.