Step 1: Identify an issue that resonates with the local community
Having a project or goal in mind can be powerful, but a project plan is unlikely to proceed very far without the support of your community. So take the time to canvas your local area -- talk to neighbors, explore the region and see what is missing or lacking -- and make a full assessment of tennis and related issues.
Things to consider:
- What does your community need most?
- Is there a need for youth activities?
- Do the public schools need support?
- Are there local health issues in your area?
- Is there a lack of access to public courts, or do old courts need to be refurbished?
- What do local decision makers care about?
Tip: It is important to keep in mind who will be aided by your project, be it children, families and/or individuals. Putting children first is a good bet to grab the attention of decision makers.
Step 2: Develop a clear idea
It is very important to stay focused during this process. A big part of that is having a very clear, concise idea of what you want to accomplish. If you know exactly where you're going, it's easier to stay on track. In developing a clear, concise idea, remember the following:
- What do you want, and why do you want it?
- Know how you will define success. What is your desired outcome?
- How does your idea/plan address the concerns of local decision makers?
- How does your plan positively affect the local community?
- Make sure your mission is specific and targeted.
Tip: You should be able to explain your idea/project in a single sentence. If you cannot, the idea is not as clear as it needs to be.
Step 3: Do Your Research
Making sure you've covered every angle is critical to the success of your project, so be sure to research the local policy priorities, and be prepared to show how tennis-focused programming can benefit your community as a whole. Explore the website of your local city or county government, focusing on the following:
- Government structure
- Past minutes of city council meetings
- City council and board meeting schedules and timelines
- Five-year school construction plans
- Park master plans
- Current program offerings
- Board contact information
- Staff contact information
- Park budget information
- Proposed local bond referendums
Also consider what actions the decision maker can take to move your proposal forward. Consider whether the decision maker or decision-making body has influence over:
- Capital plans and funding
- Funding for operating expenses
- Local legislation
- Zoning regulations
Tip: The more you can blend your desire for the project with the needs of the local community and the goals of your targeted decision maker, the greater the chance for success.
Step 4: Identify Potential Obstacles
One of the best things you can do in the early stages is to see where your project may run into problems and then find ways to work around those problems. Being able to anticipate and solve issues in advance will make carrying out your project easier down the road. Some things to consider are:
- Who will oppose your mission and goals, and why?
- What are potential obstacles to getting the response you want?
- What do opponents want?
Tip: Try placing yourself in the shoes of your potential opponents and understand their perspective.