Developing a Workplan

This tip sheet is intended to assist applicants who are applying for project/operating expenses. Completion of a workplan is mandatory for all applications for project/operating expenses. The results and activities that you identify in the workplan are used as benchmarks for you to measure the progress and successes of your initiative.

Purpose and structure of the Workplan

The information that you record on your workplan provides the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) with the details of what your initiative will achieve, the work involved in your achieving it and how you will measure its success. It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the planning you have put into the initiative and your understanding of how the activities benefit the community.

OTF funds a variety of initiatives, from very simple equipment purchases to complex projects that benefit communities across the province. The level of detail you include in your workplan should be appropriate for the level of complexity of your initiative. There are special instructions at the bottom of the page for equipment, operating, and renovations and repair requests. If, for example, you were applying for a new compressor to make better ice at the rink, you would list the purchase of equipment and the training for staff and volunteers under Activities.

The logic of the workplan flows from the general to the specific, from the measurable results you hope to achieve, the activities that will achieve those results and to how you will measure if you achieved what you set out to do.

Expected Results

Your workplan should include a list of concrete and measurable deliverables or outcomes that your organization expects to achieve during each year or by the end of your initiative. How will your initiative contribute to the quality of life in your community? It may seem obvious to you but please tell us. What will your initiative do for the community?

Your results should be an itemized list of what you hope to accomplish and be achieved though the activities you identify in the Activities column. Your results should identify the specific changes you anticipate will occur in your community or organization because of this initiative. Results should be achievable and measurable, and can be quantitative and qualitative.

Anticipated changes or results may be social, economic, community-wide or individual. Key features of anticipated results and examples are outlined below.

Achievable

Make sure that your results or outcomes are appropriate to the size and length of your initiative, its activities and your organization's resources and expertise. Results should also have clear links to the overall goal of the project and its activities.

For example, if you're applying for a project/operating grant to produce resource materials, potential results might be to expand the reach of your program or to help program participants develop a certain skill.

Qualitative and quantitative

Results can measure qualitative or quantitative changes. Don't stop at numbers and percentages. Include qualitative results that provide a more in-depth perspective on the impact of your grant. For example: the results of interviews with seniors describing how the capital renovations to a community hall mean they are now able to see friends weekly and feel more like a part of the community, a summary of letters written by volunteers who describe how their experience working with newcomers has broadened their appreciation and understanding of different cultures, a summary of a discussion group with kids who participated in a community mural project who say being part of the project made them feel important and more confident about themselves.

In most cases, you should provide both measures.

Measurable results

When deciding how to measure results, here are a few things to think about:

  • Is there an easy way to quantify results? E.g., participant satisfaction survey, journal to track participant feedback, attendance log, etc.
  • What are we trying to measure and what is the best way to capture that information? E.g., count attendance to measure reach of a workshop, interview participants to learn about how the workshop affected their ability to find work and their self-esteem.
  • What do we need to build into our program to ensure we measure results? E.g., making sure participants fill out questionnaires to assess their satisfaction with a festival.

Activities

Once you have identified the results that you expect to achieve, the next step in the planning process requires you to develop your activities. These are the main steps, for example, researching, planning, or developing, that will help your organization achieve the desired results. Each activity should be tied to an expected result. Each result should have at least one activity associated with it. Remember also that your expected results and activities should have a coherent link to your organizational mission and your goal.

When listing your activities on the form, put them in chronological order and explain when they will be done and how long each will take.

For example, if the results include putting a new roof on your curling rink, the workplan should include obtaining a building permit from the local municipal authorities as an activity.

Performance Indicators

The last column asks you to identify how you will know if your initiative has achieved the results you had hoped it would. How will you evaluate the results of your activities?

In this column you should identify the indicators of success: how you will know if your activities achieved the desired results and how you will measure them. The indicators of success in your evaluation plan should be connected to the measurable results you identified in the first column. If one expected result were to increase participation in a program, an increased number of participants would indicate success. You will measure that through attendance logs.

The workplan is designed for straightforward evaluations of simple initiatives. If you have a more complex project, you may want to develop a more elaborate evaluation plan.

Developing an evaluation plan

Although an evaluation may not actually be undertaken until midway through an initiative or at its completion, planning for an evaluation is done prior to the start of the initiative. Developing the plan prior to the beginning of the initiative enables you to:

  • Identify and put in place the process and tools necessary to collect and analyze information required to conduct the evaluation.
  • Identify and obtain resources necessary to carry out the evaluation.

Your evaluation plan should be linked to your results. At the very least, your evaluation plan should specify the following:

  • The indicators of success: how you will know if you have achieved the results you expected.
  • The source of information: how you will collect the information you need to measure your indicators (e.g., through activity logs, attendance records, a review of project documents, face-to-face interviews, a phone survey, focus groups, feedback forms, complaint tracking, etc.)

Evaluations can also include:

  • Analyzing the information.
  • Reporting and utilizing the evaluation results: what you will report and with whom you will share your findings.
  • Responsibility and timeframe: who will conduct and assess the information and when it will be done.

Remember: Structure your evaluation to suit the size and complexity of your project. If your grant request is for $10,000 to implement an event, your evaluation plan may be very simple since the results and activities may be both straightforward and limited in scope and number. On the other hand, a three-year project involving several collaborative partners and funding in the $250,000 range will require a more detailed evaluation plan, probably in addition to and separate from the workplan.