If you’ve checked out my last post, hopefully by now you have an idea in the works of progress of what you want to do as well as someone you can relay your ideas and questions onto. Don’t worry if you don’t have a full project or organization completely hatched out yet. In fact, your idea, vision, and actual program development will likely change by the time you finish from your originally intended idea. Things just change.
Now, I’m going to illustrate the 3 next steps you need to take to take your idea to an actual proof of concept. Think of this as the scientific method. The hypothesis is your solution to the proposed problem. Your research and experimentation is toying around with the solution you have created to prove your hypothesis. And your conclusion is the final product that you can put out into the marketplace.
- Write down a full summary of what your organization, project, or campaign intends to do. Make this extensive. So extensive that if someone has an obscure question about what your program does, it would be answered somewhere in this summary. This is part of the research phase of the “scientific method” to making a successful organization come to life. You need to be an expert in your field of area, and through this, you will learn a lot along the way of what you want to do.
Personal anecdote: When I started off creating my organization, I had maybe of 100 to 150 google documents with ideas, summaries of things I wanted to do/accomplish, plans of actions, short term goals, long term goals, and even a list of connections to gauge support from. This process is more for you to understand how to build something from the ground as well as how to do research in creating something new.
- Take all your notes you have compiled (which will take time!), and make it into a one pager document. Make this a simple document. If it were handed out to a stranger, it should be easily understood what your project intends to do. Some important things to include on the document include: the name, mission, vision, what you do, and any graphics.
You won’t actually be sending this to anyone (yet). This is more for you to visualize a basic description of your intended project or organization. It really puts things into perspective. Think of this as taking all the scientific research you have done up until now and creating an abstract for the everyday person to catch a summary of.
Personal anecdote: Once I compiled all my research, I made a one pager flyer almost that had my mission statement as well as what my organization does. I even included a logo that I had sketched! This really helped me translate all of my complex ideas into a single and simple image for me to reflect upon.
- This one depends specifically on the project you entail. If your project is a service to veterans, it will be different than if you are making a website to create communication between different developing worlds. Therefore, this is broad and generalized, but make it specific to your certain project/organization – whether that means on the ground or digitally.
If your project/organization is purely digital, and requires the making of a website as the sole entity, go ahead and create a website on a platform like WordPress or Weebly. Start off with a free site as you likely don’t have funds yet.
If your project is a service or essentially a profit making company start small as well. Try doing the service or selling the product, whether it’s raking leaves to support cancer patients or selling lemonade to send children in India to school, to people that you know! REACH OUT TO YOUR COMMUNITY! Draw on the support of your friends, teachers, and neighbors. The best quote I have ever heard is “think globally, act locally.” You have to start somewhere before you get really big.
Of course, the latter assumes that you have a tangible service or product that you are facilitating to raise funds or awareness about an issue. Often, this requires startup money to get things off the ground. There are several organizations that provide mini grants to help get things going. Check out Start a Snowball grant or Kaboom grants which can help support you by providing early stage seed funding! If you are in college, The Resolution Project is a valuable resource as well.
This is the time to also think about sustainability. How sustainable is your organization? Are you able to support your underlying mission (whether financially or providing a service) and still meet the organizational costs? Remember, you don’t have to register as a nonprofit to be helping others! Many people think that the only way to create a charity is establishing a 501(c)(3). While that definitely does build up credibility, you do not need to do this right away (or sometimes even at all). This is like polishing up your research and creating a solution to prove (or disprove if your model does not work) your hypothesis!
Personal anecdote: The entire premise of my organization is virtual. I thought globally but started locally. I was on a mission to provide college access services to every student I could whether that meant 1 on 1 mentoring or just simply publishing an article online for online visitors to read. I had to start somewhere, so I reached out to my fellow peers to join my cause. I created a website, created a guided mentorship program, and then I started publicizing the service to students. Then we expanded to an array of other organizational components How were we sustainable? The website costs were thankfully subsidized and after students finished their services, the mentors would have the opportunity to take on another student in lieu of the completed one. This way we had a continuous cycle of students and mentors working collectively together to annihilate college admissions. We also have a robust online blog platforms with articles written by students, thus ensuring that if we cannot physically help all students, we can still provide them with substantial information.
Stay tuned for next week! I’ll be showing you how to take your proof of concept, now launched, from a small scale into a national scale to help you create awareness surrounding the issue(s) you care for globally