CBD CAN Project Guidelines

CBD CAN Project Guidelines

All of us want to help where we can. The beautiful truth is that together we are capable of amazing things. It is also, sadly true, that we cannot always help everyone we would like to. This can be for a number of reasons:

  • We don’t have enough resources/skills 
  • We don’t have the right resources and skills

Neither of these are an indictment on us as humans, but simply a fact that needs to be taken into consideration if we are to be useful. 

We are most useful when we are clear on what is within our power to do, and what is not within our power to do. A good place to start, is to look at what you, the individual is capable of, here, now. 


If you want to contribute financially, it would be wise of you to set some amount that you’re willing to give, and take the time to investigate causes that you feel are worth your time, and meet the requirements of accountability that you need to know your money was well-spent. For some people this might look like giving to an established organization, for others, it might mean getting regular feedback from agents on the ground, so you are kept in the loop. For someone else it might mean sending someone you know a little electricity or airtime recharge.  

If you can’t give money there are plenty of other ways to be involved. To do so effectively, this means looking at your physical, mental and social capabilities, and what you can bring to the cause, without depleting yourself. Setting some rules for yourself, about how much time you are able/willing to spend on a particular contribution, is a good way to get an idea. Try to match a realistic expectation of your own capabilities and commitment, with a project that addresses an issue you feel passionate about, or where you see our particular skills are in need. To get involved, please take note of our project process and make sure that you don’t overcommit yourself.


Our projects all go through a basic 3-step process in order to ensure that we deliver what we set out to do. The aim is to rather do what we can do, and do it well, than to try and do everything, and then get nothing done properly. We also try to start small, learn from the experience, and then adapt, or scale the project further. That way we stay realistic, and motivated, which is what keeps us going in the long-run. 

Step 1 : The Fact Finding Stage

When someone proposes a project, interested team members form a sub-group to layout the plan, and check all aspects of it for viability. This includes clarity on roles and setting a schedule and communication strategy in place for accountability. This should also include clarity about the right to leave a group, and ideas around conflict resolution. This stage will involve such things as sourcing supplies, costs, collection, storage, and delivery. It can also include raising funds, dealing with artists/creatives. It will also include someone in your team liaising with the comms dept (Jackie + Zoe) about a social media strategy for your project. Once it’s been decided that the project is viable, (including legalities, pitfalls, and potential conflict of interest). It's ready for step 2.


Step 2: The Get-It-Done Stage

This is when a dedicated communication channel and team roles will do its best work, especially if an obstacle comes up. Don’t be afraid to press pause and regroup. Make the effort to encourage each other, keep the energy high, achieve small goals and announce this to your group members so everyone is up to date.

Make sure you note and record interesting insights which will be useful in the next stage.


Step 3: Debrief & Celebrate

Get together as a team to talk about what worked, what didn’t work and where you would like to go from here. Assign someone to put together a little summary that can be shared with the larger group. Decide if, and how you would like to proceed, either by repeating or scaling the project, or moving on to something else. Start at step 1 again.
Above all, take time to celebrate with each other, the CAN group, and the greater community out there. Doing this will help to motivate others, and regenerate your capacity to take on the next thing. 



Start your own. There are a lot of resources available in the Cape Town Together fb group and we are trying to build up a shortlist of that in our own group as we speak. A good place to start is this document. Many people neglect to read it because of the pressure to take action, but many of the pitfalls experienced in terms of delivering outcomes, can be traced back to something in this document that was not considered or clarified. Skip to page 5, Creating A Rapid Response CAN, to get a quick summary of what to consider. Then scroll through the document and areas of interest from there. Note that information might not be fully updated, so use it as a reference, and where an issue may be of critical importance, try reaching out to others, to get up to date on best practice.

An excellent sample resource (pdf) for mapping the capability of your own team, CAN, or community, is this one from the Muizenberg-Vrygrond community. Although it is location and project specific, there are many great ideas around what to take into consideration when trying to contribute effectively to your own, or another community. 

Finally, the Cape Town Together group has great resources, like the co-learning zoom sessions, and the newsletters are a good place to get some basic ideas of what’s going on. However, do note that it’s a pretty big group, and easy information isn’t always available. Use the search option with keywords of interest So take responsibility, and initiative, start small, and if you follow the three-step process it should help you get done what you can get done, in the most responsible, efficient, and realistic way. Don’t be afraid to ask, sometimes an honest conversation can go a long way.


With multiple emergencies happening, gloomy news, and polarizing online interactions, it’s important if you’re serious about being effective, to filter your information channels, and manage your exposure. Try identifying sources of emotional support online, within the group, or in your community, that specifically help you to take a time out, reset, and recharge. Remind yourself that your best is good enough, that you are a human, both brave and vulnerable, resourceful and limited, and do what you can to keep that in mind as you engage in meaningful contribution to your community.

If you are experiencing strain and distress due to your work on a project, connect with your team leader, or contact Zoe who will try to put you in touch with resources or people that can be of assistance. You can find my number under [...] Group Info in the top right corner of the group, scroll down and look under Admins, click ‘message directly’.

If you'd like to get involved in helping the Homeless in the CBD please join our WhatsApp groupFacebook Group or drop us a note

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