In my experience it really helps to visualize things. Visualizing your project design helps understand whether it can actually be successful. And visualizing your activities makes it easier to create a budget that includes everything you need. But maybe you are wondering how to visualize your activities for a good project budget?
When I say visualizing, I mean seeing something in your mind’s eye. Imagining what the activity will look like. From the preparation to the wrap up. Not just listing some actions you know you need to do. But really seeing the whole activity unfold, from conceptualizing it to sending out thank-you’s and reports.
OK, but what should I be ‘seeing’ when visualizing my activities?
I know it’s kind of weird to start daydreaming about your planned activities, when you are still designing your project proposal. And maybe you don’t know how to get started. So let me help you with some question prompts.
What is happening & how are we making it happen?
Your first prompt to visualize your activities could be: what is the project team doing? How is the team making the activity happen? How is it preparing, implementing and wrapping up the activity? What does the activity look like? And what would the first step be, when the team starts preparing for the activity?
And then build on each step, as you go (in your mind!).
Make sure to note:
- All items that cost money (even if you have them already, and don’t need to buy new now).
- All tasks your team members need to do. You will need to add an estimate of the time needed for these, with help of your team members.
What are we producing?
Next, you can zoom in on what the activity will produce. Will there be a report? Or another kind of publication that you want to disseminate? A broadcast? Will you need to create certificates for trained participants?
Check your logical framework to see if you have listed all your outputs.
Again, note all items that cost money and list all tasks to start building a good estimate of how much time your team will need to produce these outputs.
Why are we doing all this?
The final question to help you visualize your activities is: why are we doing all this? What is the bigger goal behind these activities and outputs? What do we need to achieve that?
Sometimes looking at the key objective of your project helps you see a need for an extra step, an extra outreach action, an infographic, a video clip, a checklist, or something else.
Make sure you add this to your project design, too!
With these key questions you can create an image of the concrete project steps that will help you list all items you need for your budget, including the time your team will spend.
My key tips
- Take time for your visualization, so that you can get very precise. Often this also helps you find gaps in your project design.
- Involve the team in checking that the list of items and tasks is complete.
- Help the team make good estimates of the time they need for the tasks.
- Pro tip: I use time sheets to keep track of time spent to that we can make better estimates next time, based on real recorded time spent.
How I can help you
Here is how I can help you design better projects, including better budgets, to achieve real impact for the community or cause you serve:
- If you would like a structured approach with easy steps and guidance by me to go from a great idea to an effective project design, that has community support and a workable budget, you can join my Course Project Design for nonprofits here: https://bit.ly/courseprojectdesign
Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community
If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
You can join my free nonprofit support community on the Heartbeat platform here. This group is a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.
You can visit the community via a browser or via an app. Here is the link to download the Heartbeat chat app in the Google Play store.