the community you are seeking to serve. Here are a few steps:
- Build your credibility with the community. Figure out what the area needs by bringing together community leaders.
- Get feedback on your agenda and action plan. Is it effective or realistic?
- Gain further input on how your plan should be implemented and how the venture can get political support.
These pointers will help you lay the foundation for your community cleanup project. But before you take the plunge, make sure you’re ready to commit for the long haul.
Conduct extensive research
- Find out as much as you can about the organization and individuals involved in a given project, as well as details about the community they plan to serve.
- Identify well-endowed organizations and foundations that fund similar programs.
- Evaluate how your involvement in such a venture will physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually affect you and your family.
Develop a solid plan
- Define the purpose of your venture or an adopted project. Make sure it has a clearly defined mission statement.
- Attack the project as if it were a business start-up. Develop a plan that establishes long-term objectives, short-term goals, and timetables.
- Put together a team and organize all levels of management.
Be careful how you use capital, especially if it’s your money
- Develop a budget and a system of financial controls so you don’t waste any of those precious dollars.
- Identify qualified financial managers who have experience managing and allocating resources.
- If you need to raise funds, make your project or community business venture attractive to investors.
If you need funding for your community-based business, try the following resources:
- The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov): The SBA offers a number of lending programs for community-oriented entrepreneurs.
- Financial institutions: Banks and other such institutions are obligated to reinvest money in minority communities under the Community Reinvestment Act.
- Local colleges and universities: Get students and faculty involved. Use their expertise to strengthen your business plan and to get the technical support you need. Many campuses help businesses through SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Centers.
- Foundations: In your fund-raising efforts, contact corporate and individual foundations or a company’s charitable arm. You or one of your associates must be able to explain how your venture works and its benefits to the community, as well as the prospective investor or donor. –Shani Smothers