Community groups are the lifeblood of society. They may differ in scope, structure, and purpose, but each has a vital part to play. Joining a community group is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, with the shared cause helping individuals who may have never crossed paths to come together. Community matters, and groups have the power to transform the way things are done, whether conducted face-to-face or supported by technology.
With the importance of community groups so revered, setting up a new group that engages can be challenging. Many community groups may thrive, but the success of others is short lived. We’ve compiled an essential guide to setting up a new group from scratch to ensure your membership can grow and stay engaged.
Establish the demand
There’s no point setting up a community group if there’s no call for one. The best community groups have a particular niche so establish yours and test the waters before launching.
Determining the advantages and disadvantages of setting up the group will identify a need. If you list more downsides than upsides, don’t be discouraged from sharing information about your area of interest.
There are other ways to let your creativity flow in an area you’re passionate about. You could send out newsletters or spread the word online if setting up a new community group isn’t right for you.
Hold a public meeting
If your community group aims to solve a widespread issue that involves more than just a few individuals, then holding a public meeting may be the best option for gauging interest. Don’t rely on word of mouth to ensure the right people attend your public meeting. Put on your marketing hat and start your own publicity campaign:
“Think about who you are hoping to attract to the meeting, and make sure your poster or leaflet will catch their eye and give them a reason to come along to your meeting. Make sure the date, time and place of the meeting are clearly shown on the leaflet, and that it’s clear what the meeting is about. Just as the plan for your meeting should be simple, the topic that you publicise should be simple and clear too.”
This initial meeting will tell you much more, including the type of individuals the issue attracts and the collaborative style that’s preferred by the group. If the subject matter of your group is more niche, sending personal invitations to individuals that may be interested will be a better approach.
Go back to basic
It’s amazing how much difference a group’s image can make to engagement. Language certainly matters when gaining the interest and enthusiasm your group deserves. Start defining your image by choosing its name, but take your time. Once set, the name can be very difficult to change.
Many group founders create the name alone; others find it more beneficial to involve additional people in the selection of their group’s name. Whichever method you choose to go for, keep the name snappy, simple and relevant to your group’s overall mission.
For groups looking to make their incorporation official, seek advice regarding the best legal structure. There are a variety of legal structures for voluntary and community groups. You may have other legal obligations to fulfil - particularly in relation to insurance and liability. Incorporated groups must hold formal meetings at least once a year to abide by the latest legal requirements.
Kick-starting your new community group with the right foundations so your group can flourish. A well-established group will also be a more attractive prospect to new people, meaning they’ll be more minds to help your group go from strength to strength.