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How to find a good project idea?
Finding a good project idea is like finding a seed that sprouts and grows into a tree. It is like an alchemical process, because you have to take into account both what is inside (within the organisation, within the people in charge) and what is outside (what are the needs and priorities of the community at European, national and local level). To put allthis together, we can draw on the ikigai philosophy.

Have you heard of IKIGAI? Ikigai is a Japanese term that refers to a person having a purpose, a reason for living. “iki” in Japanese means life and “gai” means value. Ikigai brings joy and encourages you to get out of bed every day.
This concept applies to the whole of your life, but it can also be adapted to writing a purposeful project. According to the ikigai philosophy, you have found the career of your dreams if the following four statements are true:

● you like
● you’re good at it
● they pay for it
● the world needs it

We can adapt this theory to the application writing process to find the main idea of the project. If you follow this, your idea will be easy to explain, it will fit your application, it will be easy to implement and it will be sustainable because it will be based on the needs of the community and your groups. The “ikigai of application writing” rests on 4 pillars:

● What are the interests of the group
● What are the strengths of the group
● What are the priorities at local,
national and European level and the principles
of the programme.

● What your community needs

Idea: Why not practice right away? Take your time, grab a pencil and paper and try to create your own idea using the ikigai technique.

1. Gather your friends, colleagues, classmates, teammates and other young people to discuss the idea, getting their views and needs. We recommend that you also do a needs analysis.


“A needs analysis tries to gather as much information as possible to get a comprehensive picture of needs and problems. Once these needs are understood, it is much easier to identify possible solutions.” -SALTO YOUT

Involve as many people as possible, making sure they are relevant to the action you are applying for. This means that for the Youth Exchange programme, you should involve young people aged 13-25 in your study. Of course, for the mobility of youth professionals, your target audience will be these professionals and youth leaders.

How do you involve them?

Well, for youth exchanges or training, you can make a simple online questionnaire with 2-3 people. If it’s a small-scale partnership
project, you can also interview them, organise discussion groups with your colleagues or potential target group. This tool allows you to prioritise problems according to their frequency and severity, and to develop an initial strategy to tackle them. You will also need to consider the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed solutions, and on this basis select the most effective project idea. By the end of the discussion, you will have a deeper understanding of your
peers’ perspectives and may even have a better project idea outlined in front of you! Idea: Write a list of people you want to involve in the needs assessment, how will youask them about their needs? In the form of an interview, a questionnaire or an informal discussion?

2. Compare the results of the needs analysis with the priorities of Erasmus+
2021-2027 and the 11 European Youth Objectives and select the most relevant
one as the main issue.

3. From this step onwards, the work can be done by your group individually or with a partner. Dive into the causes and effects of the main problems identified using aproblem tree analysis. Once you have chosen the main problem that forms the trunk of the tree, start to look at its roots and branches. The roots are the economic, cultural, political, social, systemic and infrastructural causes that have combined to create the problem. The ramifications are the knock-on effects of the root problem, the consequences that already exist or will occur in the future if the problem is not mitigated. This re-conceptualizes the importance of the selected problem, identifies the direct and indirect stakeholders, and provides insight into the concerns and dilemmas that need to be addressed during the preparation phase.

4. The next step is to translate the problem tree analysis into a target tree analysis.

This operation puts a lens in front of the problem tree analysis and converts
negative statements into positive statements. Now the trunk of the tree becomes
your project mission statement, your project idea. The roots are the means to
achieve your specific goals, your mission. The branches become the goals, the
results of the project. These two hierarchical tools will be a great help in planning activities and will also show the national office that your vision is thorough and well thought out.

5. With these resources, which you can and should return to in the next stages of
the project, you are ready to take the next step!

Idea: Why not try it now? Create your own problem tree, then suggest to your team that they do the same! How different are they from each other? What are your goals and objectives? Write them down… Did you do it? Congratulations, you’ve managed to get through one of the most difficult parts of writing a proposal!