“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
― Barack Obama
Whatever kind of grassroots group you lead — political action, personal network, or interest group — if each member of the group realizes that she personally benefits from her involvement with it, she’s far more likely to make it a priority in her life.
What are a handful of basics that a group leader can use to increase the odds that all group members benefit from their involvement?
Some simple actions you can take that work:
Check in with each member regularly to find out what she hopes to achieve by being in the group and what kind of help she needs in her life today. What’s new in her life now?
Find out what each member is good at and what she can offer to others. For example, accounting advice, computer help, experience raising an autistic child, public speaking. Next, actively connect those skills to another member whose needs they can meet.
At every group gathering, ask each member to share what she needs right now and how she can help.
Help as many people as you personally can in your group. Set the example, the tone, and the culture by being a generous helper and giver.
If members of your group use Twitter, Facebook or other social media, follow them, and support them online by liking and sharing their posts. Encourage members of the group to do the same.
Make your members feel valuable. They are there for an important cause and are willing to give their time and energy to the work. It’s up to you to provide the productive and creative atmosphere that activism thrives in.
Think about it. Would you prefer to walk into a non-productive boring meeting each week or into a meeting environment that encourages you to show up and openly share your thoughts and suggestions? As the group organizer, you should provide a meeting forum that recognizes the input and enthusiasm of members and allows for the inevitable disagreements and compromises.
These discussions can be animated or thoughtful differences of opinion that you will chair. They’re key to creating a team-like interdependence among your members, and they empower them to do more.
Don’t forget to thank members on a regular basis for the time and effort they put in for your organization. People feel valued when you tell them that they are. Surprise them at the next meeting with something delicious.
Every action a member takes in your group, every success and failure, is a chance to exceed expectations, break through barriers, and learn new skills that will be useful throughout her life. Many of us became activists or started careers years ago. The skills we learned are invaluable and have translated into real leadership skills in our daily lives.
The work for social change is very real and very important. However, it can still be fun and, of course, it gives each of us a chance to collectively create change for good.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
Main image: tonl.co