How to attract new people to your group

Building a grassroots movement relies on our groups having a strong profile in local communities and increasing membership. Find out why growing the movement matters and what your group can do.

29 Sep 2021

Why it's important to grow your group

To tackle the climate and ecological emergency, we need more people to be actively involved with our local campaigning. This begins with growing your group’s profile, engaging new audiences and involving new people in your campaign. Ultimately, the bigger your group, the more campaign impact you can have.

But to be genuinely effective, we also need a movement that reflects a more diverse range of voices. We can already see the impacts of climate breakdown in our towns and villages, but those impacts affect people differently. For example, air pollution will generally affect those living on busy roads the most. To be truly representative and build more powerful campaigns, we need to reach out and involve people with different experiences.

This means increasing the diversity of our network and working to become actively anti-racist. We know that some groups are already working towards this, which is great. But we'd love to see all groups take steps to become more representative in the future.

What are the benefits of a bigger group?

  • Many hands make light work. Distributing roles and responsibility makes everyone’s job easier and ensures that the group isn't reliant on one person struggling to do everything. Volunteers can contribute with their specific skills and experiences.
  • Encouraging diverse voices to speak up. Bringing together a range of different views and experiences is key to ensuring that what we campaign for has a genuine impact on all members of our community.
  • Greater campaign impact. A larger group, with a strong local profile, is likely to have more influence with councils and local businesses.

Reaching new audiences

It’s useful to think about both your current audience and your target audience. Try these prompt questions to help you start planning your communications.

What do you know about your current audience?

Who are the people who are naturally drawn to your group and how did they find you? Is there a certain demographic that's overrepresented? Does your group represent the diversity of your community?

Who's your target audience?

Who in your community do you want to reach with your message, and how much do you know about them already? Do you know what matters to them, or what sort of relationship they may have with local decision-makers?

How, where and when can you reach new audiences?

Think about "meeting them where they are". Can you identify moments or spaces where they’d be most open to hearing your message? Make it easy for them to engage with what you’re saying by making it relevant to their experience.

Communicating your campaign message

To put it simply, your campaign message is the story (and solution) that you'd like to communicate. In order for the message to stick and resonate, it's good practice to following the following tips:

  • Stick to a key message. Keep it simple and focused. Your key message can then be adapted to fit the channel / audience.
  • Adapt your message for your audience. Do they have any previous knowledge of the issue, or are they an expert? What are their motivations or interests?
  • Tailor your message for the channel. Think about what will make it effective across different channels eg press release, Facebook, email.
  • Include a call to action. What do you want people to do as a result of seeing or hearing your message?
  • Keep it brief. People are busy so keep your message concise – but point to a place where they can find more information if needed.
  • Check your facts and proofread what you've written.

Some of the most common ways to raise awareness of your group are listed below. Remember to always include contact details so that people can get in touch with you about joining.

  • Action Network. Our digital campaigning tool helps set up various aspects of a campaign, like petitions, emails and events promotion. A recent petition by Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire (to review Leicester's Local Plan to act on Climate Change) recruited 260 new people to their mailing list.
  • Social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Printed materials. You can use ready made materials like leaflets, posters and placards, or create your own with Canva templates.
  • Local media. Local newspapers, radio stations and social media channels are great places for spreading the word about your campaign, recruiting new people to your group and posting volunteer ads for specific roles.
  • Local allies and partners. If you already have contact with some local organisations, ask if they can share news about your group in their newsletter or social media. If not, or if you'd like to reach out to more organisations, read our guidance.
  • Physical events. Identify events to reach new audiences, for example at local universities or colleges, community and faith groups, or activities like litter picking and tree planting.
A Climate Action group in Leicester launches a petition to revise the council's Local Plan
A Climate Action group in Leicester launches a petition to revise the council's Local Plan Leicester and Leicestershire Climate Action Group

What else can you do?

Here’s some ideas for events you can try to reach out to new people:

  • Once restrictions allow, organise activities that anyone can get involved in
  • Build relationships with other local community groups and faith groups, making sure Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are represented.
  • Get involved in local events like street parties and local fairs.
  • Host open hours in a local café where people can drop in to chat.
  • Work with your local schools. Plan an event together, discuss ways to reduce the school’s carbon footprint and engage the parents’ associations.
  • Get in touch with your local university. Hold a talk, invite an MP, engage with the students and encourage them to sign up to the mailing list. Post job or volunteer ads in the university’s online forums.
  • Plan moments when there’s more organic attention around climate like Earth Day, Overshoot Day etc
  • Putting on special meetings specifically designed for new people a couple of times a year (especially straight after moments where you are actively recruiting).
Resources
Climate Action