22 Jan 2020
Groups can be led by one organiser or have a core team who share responsibilities. As you'll see below, we highly recommend this last option. Either way, these tips will help you tackle any challenges that arise.
1. Stay calm
Being an organiser doesn’t mean you need to do everything! You may not be the most confident leader or hugely comfortable running events – and that’s ok. You’re already doing something really important here by volunteering to coordinate the group, and that doesn’t mean you have to do it all...
Which brings us nicely on to delegation. You want to make sure the group is sustainable and that organisers don’t burn out. And the way to do that is to ensure responsibilities are divvied up. Remember, each individual brings a unique set of skills and passions: make the most of these.
Find out what other organisers or members are interested in doing. Is someone really keen to organise events? Manage your social media? Take photos?
Create roles within your group and give people responsibility. But make sure not to force it on them – if someone just wants to come along for a while and see what’s what then that's fine too.
3. Take care of yourself
Activism can be tiring, and the climate breakdown we are facing is frightening. It’s important that we look after our health and wellbeing and support each other.
If you’re feeling swamped, reflect on why you got involved in the first place. Talk to your group, or someone close to you, about how you are feeling and don’t hesitate to take a step back from organising if you need to.
4. Have fun
It’s a big crisis we’re facing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun solving it. Feeling scared and overwhelmed can lead to a sense of loss and inertia. Make sure to seek out the things you enjoy doing and keep your group active. People are more likely to want to get involved if they see that there is something for them to do and that climate activism isn’t all doom and gloom.
5. Do what works for you
Want to include lively ice breakers in all your meetings? Prefer to follow a clear agenda? Find out what works for your group and what keeps people coming. Don’t feel like you have to follow a set structure. If you want your meetings to be a walk in the park (literally), do it.
As long as you’re making sure what works for you is also what works for the people in your group and doesn't exclude anyone, don’t feel confined by the word ‘meeting’.
6. Ride the waves
Things will change in your group along the way. Members will come and go. Your group will have peaks and troughs of activity. That’s okay – people have loads of commitments and sometimes life gets in the way. Don’t let that get you down, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.
However, if you do think something is amiss in your group, take a moment to look back at these tips and see if you need to make any changes or try something new. You can also chat to the group about it, see how others feel, and get a sense of what might need fixing. Together, you’ll be able to find answers.
7. Spread the word and reach out
It might not feel like it, but you know a lot of people. Your family and friends know even more people. And the family and friends of your group members know even more people! Never assume your circle of influence is small. Together, if you use your connections, you might be able to reach a lot of people in different communities from across your area – and that’s a powerful thing.
8. Be open and welcoming
This may seem obvious but human connections are a key part of keeping your members active and involved in the group. Make sure to welcome any new member properly, introduce them to others and find out what they're interested in.
The more you do, the more people you’ll attract and the more successful your group will be. As your group grows, remember to look around and see who’s not in the room. Climate breakdown is a global issue, and we need as many different people as possible working on the solutions.
9. Think sustainable
In our quest for sustainability we often forget to make our own movement sustainable. Part of that is looking after yourself (see point 3) and giving others an opportunity to contribute (see point 2). Think of other ways you can make your group more sustainable.
The aim is for no one in the group to be irreplaceable. That way, no individual commitments or life circumstances will get in the way of the group succeeding. We’re not going to manage to win this as individuals, we’ll only manage if we work together.
10. Seek help
Make sure you and your group know about all the resources, tips, and training workshops that are available for you on the Take Climate Action website.
You can also use Slack if you can’t find what you are looking for, or if you need some advice. Slack is an online messenger platform designed to help you chat to other Climate Action groups and with us at Friends of the Earth too. Find out how to get started with Slack.
And if you’re still struggling to find an answer, get in touch at email@example.com.