Community Support Service

Project Planning

Have you ever wondered how some people seem unflappable when they put on events? Whenever you start a new project whether it is a simple one off or something longer and more complex, planning is the secret of success.

Set your aims and objectives


The overarching outcomes you want from the project

  • Provide direction for the project
  • Aims should be brief and simple
  • Avoid multiple aim statements – it is clearer to set out 1 or 2 single aims
  • Achievable and realistic
  • In accordance with charitable objectives and governing document


Objectives are the goals you need to achieve in order to meet your aims or the stepping stones to get there

They should be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measured
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time related

Setting objectives is a key stage and needs careful consideration

Once you have outlined what you are trying to achieve then you need to think about the practicalities.

  • How will you do it?
  • Who will be involved?
  • Where will you do it?
  • What will it cost?
  • What other resources are needed?
  • How long will it take?
  • When will it finish?
  • What follow up is needed?

Using your SMART objectives start putting all of these considerations down on paper. This is really important – Ideally,  if you fall ill on the day, anyone could pick up your project plan and run the event

When you are planning remember

  • Outputs – What you do
  • Outcomes – What happens as a result of what you do

Impacts – the long term changes that take place within the community

Project Plan Layout

Gantt charts

A Gantt chart (below) illustrates a project schedule. They illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of a project. The example below shows the beginning of this method.

Example of Gannt chart

If you have a date you are working to you would need to work your planning backwards to ensure you have everything in place by the time you need it. This may have implications on your time and resources, whereas if you plan forward the project will actually take place at the time when everything is in place and on a realistic timescale.

You will also need to add some of the specifics to your plan

Task/action Timescale Lead Personnel Resource/Cost implication Success indicators Outcomes/ achievements
What are you going to do – this should be small scale single actions By when Who is responsible to ensure the action is achieved. This does not mean they necessarily have to do it, just that they ensure it is done How much money or other resources do you need (including time) How will you know you have completed the action What will the impact of the action be.There may not be an outcome for every action.


Always endeavour to work to a full cost recovery model. Information about this can be found on the Big Lottery website.

Don’t forget to add the time and resources for monitoring and evaluation of your project.


You need to take account of all the resources you will need and how they impact on your project planning. Some of the things you need to take account of are,

  • Time
  • Skills & knowledge of staff and volunteers
  • Money
  • Space/ facilities
  • Help (volunteers and staff)

Assessing the Risk

  • Risk assessments – remember to create a risk assessment for every part of your project
  • Underwriting – What happens if the project runs at a financial loss (for whatever reason). How will this be dealt with?
  • Reputation – this is about ensuring the quality of your project so that the reputation of your organisation is not damaged.

Remember “If you don’t know where you’re going you are sure to end up some where else” - Mark Twain