Do you know that feeling when a new project is approved? You want to get going, start implementation straight away! But often it is better to first take a moment to create clarity about your project. So how can you do that? How can you create clarity in your project from the start?

Clarity on what?

There are many issues that require clarity before you can start successful implementation of a new project. For instance: what is the desired impact? Which activities are foreseen to achieve the impact? What budget is available? How is the budget divided over budget lines? What are specific requirements or conditions for the budget or the project from the side of the donor(s)? What is the role of your partners? Which team members are involved and how? Which external contractors do you need to hire or renew to help implement this project? Etc. etc.

The project itself

So, a first set of questions focuses on the project itself. You can organize a kick-off workshop with the project team to come to common understanding and agreement on these topics. That can be the starting point for a transfer of ownership for the project to the team. And it is important to put some elements of this ownership in writing. So that it is clear to everyone what was agreed and who is responsible for what, when, and how.

The team

Actually, before you can do a kick-off workshop you need to identify which team members will be part of the implementation. Is everyone you need for this project available? When does their employment end? Do you need to renew or adjust their contracts?

Or do you need to recruit people? If so, what persons are you looking for? And what can you offer them in terms of employment?

The donor

You will discuss specific donor requirements that are stipulated in the proposal guidelines and in the grant agreement in your kick-off workshop. Make a good checklist of these things so that nothing falls between the cracks!

In addition, you can confirm with the donor how the project lead will communicate and report, what they will consult the donor about and when they will invite the donor to events for instance. Don’t forget to write all this down, too!



Your partners

Maybe you will implement your project with a local or international partner. If so, make sure that you have a clear agreement between you that describes who will do what, when and how. As well as what to do in case something does not go as planned. Many nonprofits use standard agreements for this and that is fine. But make sure all the details you need to know about and agree on are included. And make sure all parties understand what is written in the details as well as in the standard text!

Your contractors

You will probably need to contract service providers to implement your project. For instance, a trainer. Or an Internet provider. Or a printing house. Etc. etc. Make sure you are clear on what you need, when and how. Where applicable, write that down in your terms of reference, a request for quotations and a contract. Invest time in clarifying anything that you require to be tailor-made, such as training or workshop.

Clarity on all that????

Yes. The above is a small selection of questions you will need to get clarity on. And it is important that this clarity will last you throughout the whole project implementation period. So, I recommend putting it in writing, in the form of a contract or otherwise. And to take time to go through the written down clarification and contracts carefully to make sure that your clarity is not obscured by legalese.

And yes, this will eat up some time in the beginning when you and the team are eager to get started. But it will help you move smoother and faster if you create clarity and reach agreement on that in the beginning. Before any misunderstandings take hold and lead to annoyances and conflict. So if you want to preserve your enthusiasm in the project implementation, take your time in getting started!

My key tips

  • Look at lessons learned on the implementation of previous projects. List which lessons are applicable in the context of your new project. And apply them!
  • Write your clarifications down and agree in writing.
  • Invest time in making sure all parties understand exactly all the stipulations in the agreements you will sign.

How I can help

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