Project Selection Criteria
Each year, WRV scouts many potential sites for Wildlands Restoration Volunteers projects. There are always more potential restoration projects than our resources can allow us to complete. The WRV Project Selection Committee is responsible for choosing the best projects for WRV to pursue. This committee reviews all the potential projects for a given year and ranks them. All committee members rank the projects from most favorite to least favorite. These rankings are combined into a master ranking. WRV staff and committee members then evaluate the list to determine how many projects, from the top down, WRV can realistically accomplish with the resources likely to be available in the coming year. This list is presented to the Board of Directors for final approval.
In order to rank projects, each committee member needs criteria to follow. Personal preferences play heavily in an individual’s criteria. That’s okay. That’s why we have the committee, so that we can discuss and debate pros and cons, and average a range of perspectives.
Beyond personal preference, we need a list of commonly held characteristics and questions to consider when we evaluate the relative merits of one project verses another. These characteristics and questions reflect the WRV mission and have emerged over time as the committee considers the most important factors in selecting a project. The following list is “living” and will continue to evolve over time.
COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF A “GOOD” PROJECT
- The project is consistent with WRV’s mission.
- The project is important and is a priority for the land agency partner.
- The project will provide a satisfying, meaningful, and safe volunteer experience.
- The project is somewhere we (WRV and individual volunteers) want to go.
- WRV is capable of doing the project (skills, # vols, tools, leadership), or we can grow to become capable.
- The project has adequate-to-excellent funding potential, either from the land agency or other sources.
- The type, timing, duration, and size of the project nicely complements other project offerings.
- The project has manageable logistics, possibly provides a fun challenge, but is not overwhelming.
- The project provides good opportunities for partnership, community outreach, and/or education.
- There are no unresolved legal, technical, or administrative obstacles to the project.
SELECTION CRITERIA QUESTIONS
- How important is this project, ecologically?
- Will this project be completed if WRV doesn’t do it? If so, how?
- Will this project provide a satisfying volunteer experience?
- Is the work fun? Is the location beautiful? Will volunteers find the work meaningful?
- Do we have the infrastructural capability to do this project?
- Do we have, or can we find or develop, all the required technical expertise or skills?
- Do we have enough crew leaders? Cooks? etc.
- Do we have the right tools or can we get them?
- What funding is available for this project?
- WRV can afford to “internally” fund a modest number of projects, but we need more projects that have good-to-excellent outside funding potential.
- Funding for direct project costs (staff, services, materials, etc.) is always important to find. Often, this form of funding comes from foundations or the sponsoring government agency.
- WRV most needs general operating support, so it’s good if the project has the potential to draw in that kind of funding. Often, corporate or individual donor funding can be applied to general operating support.
- When can we do the project?
- Obviously, if every project we select has to be done in May, we have a problem. It’s important to select a range of projects that can populate a full schedule spanning as much of the year as possible, typically March to October.
- How long is the project?
- Evening and one-day projects require less food planning, and require less commitment from the volunteers. They are likely to be less complicated from a technical point of view, but not necessarily.
- Multi-day projects provide a deeper experience. Overnight camping provides lots of social benefits that really help to build the WRV community. However, more effort is required to plan the meals unless we have a special arrangement where food is provided by another organization.
- Where is the project?
- It’s good to have diversity of locations, elevations, ecosystems, and work types in our project schedule.
- What are the logistical constraints of this project?
- Are there any access, parking, camping, or carpooling complications with this project?
- Will the site require site preparations (e.g. heavy equipment work) or the staging of materials?
- Who are the partners and stakeholders in this project?
- Can we develop interesting new partnerships or access new stakeholder groups?
- Can we bring together conflicting groups, which by working together can lead to an environmental benefit(e.g., environmentalists and motorized recreationists)?
- Does this project have good “outreach potential”?
- Is this project “visible” in the community? Will the community care about this project?
- Is this project newsworthy?
- Is this project a good opportunity to reach people we normally don’t reach?
- Does this project have good educational value?
- Is this project a good opportunity to educate or train our volunteers?
- Is this project a good opportunity to educate the public about an important issue?
- Are there any unresolved legal, technical, or administrative obstacles to this project?
- It’s important to consider any issues that could cause the project to be cancelled or postponed after we select it.
- Sometimes we take a chance on a project with unresolved issues, if there is a high probably of resolution. However, this has come back to bite us on rare occasions!
- How well will this project complement all the other projects we are considering, based on the criteria mentioned above?
- Diversity keeps our work fresh and fun for returning volunteers.
- Diversity creates niches for people with different interests to participate.
- Diversity of location, elevation, type, and duration enhance our overall schedule.
- Diversity of project-type enhances the educational and skill development value of our work.
- WRV is strengthened by working with a variety of partners and stakeholders.
- As much as possible, we seek a diversity of gender, ethnicity, and age in our volunteer pool.
- Beyond the scope of one project…
- Is this a place that WRV might want to adopt and continue work?
- Is there a compelling ongoing need at this place or for this type of work, something to rally an ongoing team around?