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Starting Your Own Group in the Community

At a Glance

In this post, we'll go over some important tips to consider as you start a group in your community.

Each group is different based on your goals, group goals, and model you choose. 

The great thing about starting a group is that you get to decide what the group's goals are and what to focus on.

The way you start your group is likely going to depend on a lot of different factors, and no two experiences will be the same! Instead of trying to create a one size fits all template for getting any group started, here are some tips and tricks for deciding what is best for you and your group. Feel free to use the ones you find helpful and discard the ones you don’t think apply in your case.

Pick the pace that is right for you.

  • Some people may feel motivated to get started right away, and that is great!

  • Others might feel like they need to prepare more to get started or to build themselves up to take some of the steps they’ve outlined for themselves, and that is great too!

  • You are the one in charge of your group and it’s not going to happen without you, so you should choose a pace that helps you feel confident in and comfortable with the work you are doing.

There are no inherent rules to any group.

  • While there are many established groups out there whose models may be worth emulating, there is no set way to start a group, recruit for a group, or maintain a group.

  • The entire purpose of a group is to collectively work toward a common goal, be it to play board games or to upend the political status quo. If a traditional norm associated with groups does not fit your needs, it is OK to try something different!

  • Just as important is the reality if you are running the group, you are also responsible for making sure people treat each other with kindness and respect. If a person in your group bullies others and is never asked to stop or asked to leave, then your group allows bullying whether you have a written rule about it or not.

  • Any rule set by the group requires the agreement and participation of its members to have any effect or relevance.

Review your self-assessment! Knowing what your group needs is often the best way of figuring out what you need to do first.

Check out the Self-Assessment we made here in the Starting a Group in the Community Toolkit.

  • If you know what your group needs but you are still stuck, try identifying which needs you could attempt to meet without any additional resources first.

  • You may find that some things on your list are achievable fairly quickly, while others may need to come later because they are dependent on you having achieved some other steps first.

  • If all else fails, try ranking your needs and goals in the order they are most important to you personally and starting with the things you believe are absolutely essential.

Rally your people!

  • One thing that can be a little jarring for people running a group for the first time is coming to understand just how much members of groups tend to look to leadership for direction and inspiration.

  • You started your group with a vision, and people who join your group agree with that vision enough to commit their time! Sharing where you are thinking of going next is a great way of getting people excited about putting their energy into the group.

  • Think about the activities related to your group and which are harder to support without active participation from a larger community. There’s a good chance that other members of your group know about those activities too and want to take advantage of a group setting in particular!

Your group might not be for everyone, and that’s okay!

  • While it can be disappointing when not everyone is interested in the same things as us, it’s also the core advantage of starting a group in the first place.

  • When people do show up to participate in your group, you know they are enthusiastic about the thing your group will be doing and you won’t have to convince them it’s worth their time.

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