Implementation Month: Resources

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Rural Resurrection has declared January as National Implementation Month! So let the festivities begin! But where do you start?

Last year we discussed the need to create a Implementation Matrix. The implementation matrix is a simple spreadsheet that lists out the goals and actions of various plans. It then provides who is responsible for implementing the task, the time frame to implement, and can also include resources, and other basic information that may be important for successful implementation. We also discussed Implementation Committees. Creating a group of individuals with a common goal and a drive to get it done.

Yet, most projects do not survive without an application of resources. These are not natural resources, but a combination of financial, human, and social resources that an be drawn on in order to complete a project.

 1.  Financial

Financial resources are the most commonly thought of resource type. Most projects take financial assistance of some type. Whether it is through the City’s own budget, grants, or fundraising, financial resources are important. But they are often the toughest to obtain.

City Budget

For most projects, the municipality is required to put their money where their mouth is. Even if there is an expectation that a grant will be obtained to help pay for the project, many grants require a local match of some type. A majority of the time this match is required to be fiscal. A good way to start off the implementation of a project is to add it to your Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). This allocates a portion of the community’s future budget to the project and essentially commits the community to move forward with the project during the year where funding was allocated.


Grants are a great source of funding, yet they are often not utilized enough for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is just the general lack of knowing what’s available. Although a few entities try to put a comprehensive list together, it is exhaustingly hard to develop and maintain one. Grants vary greatly on recipient eligibility, funding, and requirements. These aspects also change over the years over the years. Rural Resurrection has started our own Tool Kit, but it is best for each community to keep their own spreadsheet of what funding sources are available.

Another reason grants aren’t applied for as much as they should be is the lack of an author. A majority of grants available have applications that go well beyond applicant contact information and the name of the project. Writing a viable grant application that has a narrative that compels a granting institution to fund it often requires a good amount of work and sometimes a little expertise.

Town clerks are often too bogged down with the daily work to keep their community running to write such an application. Thankfully some states have councils of government (COGs), regional development authorities (RDAs), or some other regional entity that often helps communities look for and write grants. If not, you should look to your community for assistance. Why not ask a local high school English teacher?


Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

Asking people for money to help complete a project is tough for many of us. It is well outside of their comfort zone. This is also a critical point where projects can fail. But this is where one of the other resources come into play. Social resources, as discussed below can have a profound affect on a project’s success. Knowing those who know the right people and are willing to ask is important. Keeping these people close during the project can help the success of a fundraising effort. The point of this is, you truly don’t have to do most of the asking in fundraising efforts. But you do know those who will do it for you.

2.  Human

Human resources are another key resource. These are the people that make the project happen. This is easiest when it is in house. A skillful public works crew might be able to repair a park shelter, plant some trees, or install new signage to adopt a new wayfinding plan.

However, it is important to also provide the training that not only makes them better at what they do, but develops their skills in other ways that can help the community. If your staff is interested at getting better at what they do, or diversifying their skills to help the community in other ways, support it as much as you can. The benefits of a highly skilled workforce, knowledgeable in a variety of avenues, greatly outweighs the cost of training in the long run.

Volunteers are another type of human resources. Freely provided labor is often a highly valued resource. Mainly due to that word “free”. A number of grants will allow the value of in-kind labor to act as a part of or all of a required local match. This lessens the financial contribution that a community needs to provide.

3.  Social

Social resources are the common trust, mutual understanding, shared beliefs and values that generates an energy towards a common goal. Unfortunately, social resources are often the most overlooked of the resources available to a community. Not because they are not as powerful as the others, they actually may be more useful than the other two. But because you often do not know what you have until you are holding it in your own hands.


Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

It is important to understand that social resources are strongly relationship-based. Many times you don’t know how good of a resource you have in a person until you have built that relationship. Building that relationship with others in and around your community takes quite a bit of effort. Many times it is unfortunately not worth the effort that you’ve put into it. Hence, social resources are often overlooked as a source of assistance to implement a project.

However, social resources can be key to a project’s success. It is often said, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” Building relationships can result in civic participation in more ways than volunteer assistance, but financial assistance or the removal of barriers to the project’s success. Having good relationships with business leaders as well as local, state, and federal representatives can often have more positive results than can be initially conceived.

Assess Now for Success Later

It is of paramount importance to assess the resources you have available to you early on in an implementation project. Not having enough of one or more of these resources locked down early on is often a tell-tale sign of future failure of a project. So knowing what you have in hand and laying down the framework to acquire the additional resources you need early on is vital to success. Put assessment of resources near the top of your to-do list when starting your implementation process this year.