It’s already February, have you started working towards your community service goals for 2012 yet? We’re pulling our plan together, adding the finishing touches, and are ready to jump in! It might seem like a foreign concept to have a business plan for your community service efforts, but just like sales, marketing, resource allocation and other core business functions, planning is essential for success.

Imagine the impact of having a well put together plan. You can achieve your goals, help your community, and facilitate team building between employees. Don’t know where to start? Here are six steps to create a foolproof plan for attaining your community service goals.

  1. Start early. Having events spread throughout the year is great, but people like to know what’s coming. Setting up a calendar at the beginning of the year that shows upcoming events will help people plan for when it will be the best time for them to donate or volunteer. You’re more likely to get a better response if people know of events ahead of time and you’ll avoid scrambling at the last minute to find volunteers and raise money.
  2. Communicate often. To build on the first point, people need to know what’s going on.  It’s important to communicate often so that people know events are still on and can verify times and locations. Set up a meeting time and place so employees can participate together and aren’t confused about where to go or what they may be doing at an event.
  3. Have options. Not everyone can make every event, so having a lot of options gives people the choice to volunteer or donate when it’s convenient for them. It also allows people to pick which causes mean the most to them and prioritize their giving of money and/or time.
  4. Have a main point of contact. People will most likely have last minute questions and it’s important they know who to ask. If it’s unclear who the point of contact is, communication may be sent to the wrong person. If no response is ever given then people may not show up to an event all together because their question about time, location, or event responsibilities was never answered.
  5. Be flexible. Every once in a while an event may change times, dates, locations or be cancelled all together. Make people aware of the change as soon as possible but be flexible with your plan. If you need to add a new event or reschedule something do it, but keep people informed.
  6. Celebrate success. Community service is a great way to have fun, but if there’s too much pressure to meet goals and not enough emphasis on the cause, then people won’t participate.  If you meet or exceed your goals (or even if you just get close) celebrate! Let people know how well they did at an event, how much was raised, or the amount of time dedicated to the cause. People like knowing the results of their effort.

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