In this article we use two immigrant projects, operating in a Swedish context, as a basis for discussing and analysing the potential of joint projects as a tool for change in human welfare service organisations that target the general public. Theextensive use of projects in the development of a slimmed-down public sector can be seen as originating fromthe contradictory promises of projects regarding flexibility and rationality in the new public management context. Projects are also used as a way to obtain more resources for specific long-term needs, but they are seldom implemented as intendedin the regular ‘mainstream’ organisation. Therefore the long-term development of social services and healthcare for immigrants remains inadequate. It appears that politicians, managers and civil servants prefer to focus on the positive aspect of projects to legitimate the organisations and to bring about change by targeting and steering activities. However,they tend to overlook the negative consequences of using projects, and there is a risk that a backlash will undermine the legitimacy of organisations. Citizens and participants in general, and immigrants in particular, experience frustration and distrust as a result of the short-term nature of project-based action. The problems that the projects were expectedto address may remain, or even increase.