How to Keep Your Project Going

How to keep your project going over the long haul is a challenge.  What do you need?  Let’s assume you’re delivering a service people want because it is a good service.  Your business or organisation is growing and you have to manage a team plus various stakeholders who want a say in it.  Here are three aspects of your business or organisation you may need to consider:


Here are three simple questions:

Who Decides?

This is day-to-day management and it should be delegated to a manager or small management team.  They will usually be employed by a project or entrepreneur.  The aim is to be crystal clear about who is in charge.

Normally, managers contribute to the strategic direction of their project too because they have experience and are closest to the work.  However, they should not have the final say on strategic direction.

Who Decides Who Decides?

There is usually a board of Trustees or Directors who appoint the project managers, to be accountable to them.  They debate and decide overall strategic direction, usually advised by the managers.

Where there is a partnership, there may be a small group who make the decisions.  The main drawback is, what happens should an individual at the top of the organisation be unable to continue in that role?

Who Decides Who Decides Who Decides?

The Board is usually appointed at an Annual General Meeting, made up of members who have an interest in the work.  For a business these may be share-holders.

Usually, a constitution of some type governs how people are appointed to the governing body.  There are many different approaches to governance of  businesses and other organisations but this general three-fold pattern is common.  Any business or organisation that doesn’t have it needs to consider how it addresses the missing elements.

Those familiar with my three function model of community development, will see parallels.  In reverse order, these three questions parallel the model’s functions of representation, planning and delivery.

Financial Control

Every business knows management accounts are important or at least if it doesn’t, it soon finds out.  Many community organisations struggle for years without financial management information.

Let’s be clear.  If you do not see management accounts, you have no idea what financial resources you have or any sense of where they are heading.

Lack of financial knowledge is a problem for businesses as much as it is for community organisations.  It is not merely about keeping good accounts but being aware of how to finance the work and how to build an asset base so the business or organisation can keep going.


Marketing is how you tell people why you are there; explain the reasons for your existence.  It is how you communicate with your market and help them understand their problem and your solution.

You may need several marketing campaigns. Besides people who use your services, there may be others who provide resources for your use.  Suppliers, if they understand your cause, may be able to put good deals your way.

Partners need to understand what you are doing.  They can provide better support if they understand your offer.  This can reduce duplication, although in my experience, once you lead the way, there can be any number of copycat projects.


If you pay attention to these three aspects during the earliest stages and review them from time to time, you will minimise the issues that crop up for poorly managed organisations.  You will be in a position to respond positively to setbacks and tackle problems as they arise.

What else have you found you need over the long haul?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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