10 Tips for Running a Group

People are complicated! But also oh so necessary!
San Francisco Tech4Good’s Katharine Bierce shares “10 Tips for Running a Group” from Ken Inadomi of the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance.
10 Tips for Running A Group (From AYA).docx

10 Tips For Effectively Leading a Networking Group

Source: Ken Inadomi, Yale ‘76

  1. Clearly define the goals and success metrics of your group, project, or cause. Make sure that the definition reflects general consensus and not merely the views of a few individuals.
  2. Remember that the speed of the leader determines the speed of the group. Try to address issues and questions as they arise, avoid being the bottleneck by belaboring decisions. Prompt response energizes a team and establishes momentum – conversely, delaying response without good reason is demoralizing.
  3. Play people to their strengths and interests. Be mindful that alumni work is voluntary – and should be enjoyable for those involved.
  4. Praise publicly, criticize privately. (For more on this, read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People.)
  5. Two of your most powerful and efficient management tools are email and conference calling/skype/Google+ Hangouts.
  6. Convene meetings in-person when possible. Nothing matches the power of face-to-face to clarify, inspire, and re-invigorate.
  7. During the start-up phase go for small wins to gain traction and build momentum. Small, incremental wins lead to major success down the line.
  8. Delegate – don’t micromanage – by providing clear expectations and specific deadlines. Be available to assist as needed, but allow your team to operate freely AND make mistakes.
  9. What are you trying to do and why? Develop a compelling narrative to describe your alumni mission and why it matters. The length of the narrative should be tailored to your mission and audience, ranging from an elevator speech to a keynote.
  10. Develop the habit of regular communication! Information is the lifeblood of any movement. Keep your key constituencies updated, and thus motivated, on a regular basis – whether through email, individual calls, conference calls, meetings, or social media.

Essential Guidelines For Organizing an Event

Here are some key issues to consider:


  • What is the purpose of the program or event?
  • What needs, concerns, and issues are we addressing?
  • What is the ideal outcome?


  • Who will lead or co-chair the project?
  • Who will serve on the project team?
  • Can we collaborate with groups from other cities, age groups, backgrounds etc?
  • Who is our audience?
  • Who are we trying to help?
  • Who must we engage to appear, participate, speak, sponsor?


  • When is the event scheduled and for how long?
  • Is this a one-time event or recurring (monthly, bimonthly, quarterly)? o Consider calendar conflicts with religious or national holidays, summer departures, school vacations, etc.
  • Establish a project timeline to benchmark the due dates of key deliverables, working from Date of Event back to present.
  • Consider using project management and email productivity tools e.g. www.asana.com or www.teambox.com as well as www.boomeranggmail.com & www.rapportive.com


  • Where will the event take place?
  • Headcount capacity and security (e.g. building check-in with photo ID) issues? o Determine venue costs including food, drink, audio/visual, signage, etc.
  • Do we charge an event fee? If yes, what amount? Note that www.eventbrite.com is good for for-profit events but www.brownpapertickets.com may be better for nonprofits (lower fees).
  • Consider outside sponsors or in-kind donations to help defray costs.


  • How do we market and promote the event?
  • How do we define success? o How can we maximize success?
  • If you’re running an event as part of a larger organization, be mindful of and protect the organization’s brand. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times