Getting started

You have an idea

Most projects start off as an idea for dealing with a particular issue in a community. An individual or group sees a need, finds that something they want is not available or discovers there are resources available that could be used by the community.

Do some research

  • Is there a need? Check out the idea with friends and relations, people in the community and anyone who might be affected by the initiative.
  • Is your idea unique? Who else is doing something about your issues, or something similar? Can you work with them rather than setting up another community group?
  • Is your idea/issue identified in other community planning exercises? Check the Long Term Plan of your local council (web search for [council name] long term plan), as well as the Ministry of Social Development's Contract Mapping site.
  • Look at the statistics and demographics - do they support the need for a new service? Statistics New Zealand. Useful questions to consider might be:
    • How many people are affected by this issue?
    • Who is affected (does gender, age or location make a difference?)
  • Explore your idea with your local council, central government agencies, iwi, hapū and other community networks and community leaders.

Tip: Listen and take into account differing and opposing views - that's consultation. It's easy to find support for an idea you are passionate about, but don't be lured into a false sense of support because the people you know tell you to go for it!

Do some planning

Be clear about the five Ws and an H:

  • why you want to do something
  • what you want to do
  • where you plan to operate from and in which area of the community
  • when you are going to do it
  • who will be affected, who will be involved, who needs to know, and
  • how you intend to make this happen - how your group will operate.

Set some ground rules, which might develop into a constitution. Consider which is the best legal structure to use. Think about how realistic it is to set up and maintain a new community group.  

Tip: Running community groups can be hard work, often with limited resources. Think very carefully before setting up a new group - it might be better to link with an existing group. Be realistic about what you can achieve - projects will take more time, energy and money than you expect.

 

Next page: Stages of development  

Previous page: Community and voluntary groups in New Zealand

Contents of the Community Resource Kit