Resources > Blog > December 31, 2023

Bimonthly Resource Roundup, December 2023: Establishing Group Principles and Developing Members 

a group of people sitting on a couch in a living room. They are of different races and ages, as well as genders. The couch is leather and the room they are in has tiled walls and wood flooring. There is a lamp in the corner.

Collective action usually requires structure to ensure a group achieves its goals. 

The following resources and materials relate to themes of a group creating structure, setting expectations as a team, and targeting key logistical needs.  

The post is broken into two major sections: group organization and staff/member development. 

Group Organization 

Good organizational structure creates groups that organically develop, grow, and adapt. Consider the following four elements of good organizational structure, along with questions and other resources that can help you decide how these elements will be implemented into your group.  

1. Communication: Plans and Processes 

Communication involves more than just monthly meetings or checking in via text or phone calls. It’s integral to create a steady and regular communication flow so community members know what’s happening and who to reach out to when a need arises.  No two groups have the same communication plan.

Questions to Consider: 
  • How technologically savvy/comfortable with technology are our members?  
  • What kinds of interactions are important for the community (e.g., face-to-face interactions like opportunities to meet in person and have coffee)? 
  • What are strategies other than in-person communication that contribute to building community? 
  • What is the best method or platform for communicating our group events, updates, needs? Are there potential learning curves to adapting these? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

2. Storing Information 

Having formal documents and expectations in place about updating these documents helps distribute the work of managing a community. It also creates opportunities for development of new leaders by ensuring that leadership can be a group priority where skills are cultivated, strengthened, and honed over time. 

Questions to Consider: 
  • Who is responsible for updates made to formal documents? 
  • Who is responsible for updating the group’s internet presence? 
  • Where will you store important digital and physical files and who has access to these resources? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

3. Group Agreements and Community Guidelines 

Consider your vision as a group, the objectives to achieve this vision, and how you want your community to interact with or engage in the broader world.  

Questions to Consider: 
  • Is it important to go over guidelines, expectations, and goals? How often? 
  • How are you setting the group tone and expectations for participation? 
  • How does your community feel about the progress being made? How is this communicated throughout the year? 
  • What processes are in place to ensure you are meeting your desired goals and outcomes? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

4. Physical and Virtual Accommodations 

It is important to know key details about your members and community, including accessibility needs, language needs, or other accommodations to support their engagement in community activities. Consistently reviewing policies instead of simply responding to requests when they come in will help your group be accessible to the widest audience. 

Questions to Consider: 
  • Are spaces big enough? Are there enough seats? Are there microphones and speakers (if necessary)? 
  • Do you offer virtual options or alternative methods to participate or provide feedback? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

Staff/Member Development 

Helping group members develop and improve skills will benefit both the group and individual group members.  

Staff development does not have to involve participating in formal training or certifications. Development can also involve opening roles to create shadowing opportunities. To do this well requires working with the strengths of those who wish to engage in the group’s mission.  

Establishing Structure 

While formal processes like registration as a nonprofit organization may have clear and rigid requirements, internal group leadership and other roles can be more flexible.  

It is impossible for one person to do everything, and it may be important for leaders to be able to step back, delegate, and rely on others. This may include involving volunteers or establishing alternative models of leadership and voting.  

The best structure for your group will be influenced by a variety of factors related to the local community, including the experience and knowledge of group members.    

Questions to Consider: 
  • What roles are necessary or would help our group? (e.g., notetaker/scribe, someone to send meeting reminders) 
  • Is there a process to complete interviews and successfully transition leadership?  
  • Are you equipped to handle volunteers using ethical labor practices? Where can they fit in? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

Managing People 

Working together is rewarding but can be challenging. Though you may not necessarily be “managing” the folks you work with, principles of good management can apply to the operation of your organization. 

Questions to Consider: 
  • How can I manage my own expectations about others’ participation to reduce likelihood of burnout?  
  • How do I identify others as potential leaders within the community? Who should I reach out to? 
Related Tools, Webinars, Podcasts, & Articles: 

Thank you for reading! Please reach out with questions, ideas for future resource roundups, or any other ideas you want to share.