IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.

Support systems for new activities in rural areas

Part 2 - Individual services
Animation and outreach work

How to use this guide & Table of Contents


If the emergence of new activities is to be
given top priority, project animation and
outreach work will involve organisational
choices as well as particular
attitudes and skills.


LEADER groups operating over relatively large areas often create a network of local development workers or animators based in particular areas (the Navarra LAG, for example, employs 8 development workers covering catchment areas of between 5 000 and 16 000 people each, depending on population dispersion).

Common problems and bottlenecks Recommendations and guidelines
  • After an initial burst of enthusiasm, development workers lose direction and sink into carrying out a series of mundane tasks that they themselves have generated.
  • One of the core skills of development workers is to know how far they can go on their own and when and where to call in outside professional advice. This is one of the main difficulties of their job.
  • Many LAGs divide their work into "missions" or task forces with specific objectives and time-scales.
  • The costs of running decentralised offices can often be exorbitant compared to the results obtained.
  • It may be easier to be out and with the project than to be in decentralised offices.
  • Administrative and financial procedures and the demands of programmes can often pull local action groups into more passive and routine bureaucratic work, away from providing support for new development projects.
  • In some cases, multidisciplinary outreach teams can count on specific budgets to help the projects they support move towards clear and tangible results.
  • Outreach work and animation should be clearly integrated into other LEADER functions such as grant giving, shared workspace and training.
  • Development workers should play a continuous role in the follow-up and aftercare of projects. Their responsibility should not begin with the opening of an administrative file and should not end when a project promoter receives a grant.
  • Development workers and agencies can often duplicate each other and compete for projects.
  • LEADER often has a key role to play in encouraging coordination between different development workers and agencies (community workers, social workers, professional bodies, etc.) and enabling them to clearly divide their tasks depending on their skills, geographical location, etc.
  • In many cases, development workers are strong on enthusiasm and interpersonal skills but are weak on economic experience and training. There is a risk of encouraging investment in projects which have little real chance of succe ss.
  • Animators need the backup of regular strategic guidance, both from within the LAG and from outside specialists, to be able to ask the right question are posed and that people are being motivated towards potentially viable activities.
  • Development workers not only need high-quality training in communication and group work but also in economic issues. There is a need to pool training materials and methodologies in these areas.
  • Development workers should ideally form part of multidisciplinary teams.
  • There can be little relationship between the day-to-day work of the animators and the strategic priorities of the business plan.
  • The LAG's role is to translate the strategic priorities of the business plan into operational objectives. Every effort should be made to work towards clear targets for specific time limits.
  • There is little enthusiasm in encouraging the creation of new activities.
  • The local initiative of potential entrepreneurs can be stimulated through the following actions:
    • competitions for ideas or projects;
    • distribution of factsheets listing good practices and detailing successful projects;
    • "business creation breakfasts";
    • an "innovation trophy";
    • a campaign in the local press;
    • animation of groups of entrepreneurs ("entrepreneur clubs");
    • etc.

N.B.: The "Innovative actions of rural development" directory published by the LEADER European Observatory describes several animation approaches carried out by local action groups.

European Flag