The target audience for NetSquared’s events includes people who work or volunteer for nonprofit organizations or social causes, people who work in the nonprofit technology provider field, and people who work for or run a Web 2.0 business or service; those who work in or with grantmaking and funding groups interested in the social impact sector; and anyone building new technologies or who sees themselves as a social entrepreneur or innovator. Begin with your own network of contacts – who do you know that might be interested in working with you on hosting an event? Who have you “met” online that might be interested in helping? Maybe you are located in a city or community where there is a bloggers group or 501 Tech Club. People who help plan those events or have attended would be good to have on your team.
How to find a new co-organizer
The best place to find a new co-organizer is in your existing networks. Send your recruiting email to the following:
- Members of your meetup group
- Presenters at previous events
- Your friends and co-workers
Working With Your Organizing Team
People are complicated! But also oh so necessary!
San Francisco Tech4Good’s Katharine Bierce shares “10 Tips for Running a Group” from the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance.
Recruiting an Event Producer
Recruiting a co-organizer is the ideal solution, but the ongoing commitment might scare some people off. So it’s often a good strategy to start by asking people to produce a single event. Templates and more thoughts on this here.
There’s lots to be done, but you don’t need to do it alone! Use these resources to make managing event volunteers easy.
- Volunteer job descriptions – sample roles that may need filling
- Volunteer recruitment email – send this to your group before your event
- Volunteer sign-up workflow – a simple way to manage your crew using email and doodle.com
How NetSquared Can Help
NetSquared can help, too. There are many ways we can help you in finding co-organizers or other support, including:
- Announce your new group on the NetSquared website
- Include links to your group and about you on the organizer team pages
- Call for co-organizers or advisors via other social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook page, LinkedIn
- Connect you via the NetSquared and TechSoup Global network to any local contacts
Co-organizer with Advisory Team examples:
- Making decisions – Net2NO (New Orleans, LA, USA) : In addition to their co-organizer team (see below), they formed a steering committee of their Founding Members to help corral group think and find interesting topics. HOWEVER, the Organizers always make the final decision based on the time and energy they have to spend that month.
- Pros and Cons – San Francisco, CA, USA– We have formed a group of 6 people that are the “producing team” for the N2SF events. Four are Advisory Committee members and two are co-organizers. The role of the Advisory Committee is to brainstorm theme and speaker ideas for the meetups. And we sought Advisory Committee Team members who had particular professional strengths in the key components of our meetup member groups; institutional funders, non-profit leaders, social media mavens, and social benefit tech entrepreneurs. Here’s how it works:
- We have approximately one producing team meeting for every 2-3 meetups we plan. We brainstorm ideas for the themes and speakers based on a combination of local/national and international social enterprise & social software trends and other important convenings happening in S.F. during the calendar period (to leverage out of town speaker possibilities).
- Once theme and target speakers have been identified for a given meetup typically the co-organizers take the ball and run with it to confirm the speakers, handle all pre-event speaker communications, liase with our event hosting facilitity (TechSoup Global), and handle evening-of logistics
- Benefits: Prior to an event, the Advisory Committee plays a key role in promoting the event through the respective communities. This extends our reach to people that the two co-organizers wouldn’t necessarily have access to. Additionally, brainstorming ideas is more fun and dynamic with a group that represents a diversity of influences and insights into the most relevant themes and people who are doing projects that stand out in that space
- Challenges: Scheduling the brainstorming meetings. Getting our calendars aligned is the toughest part of getting the programming ball rolling!
Co-Organizer Team examples:
Co-organizer application form (Seattle, WA) When the Seattle group re-launched they recruited co-organizers by circulating a survey through their network. The Seattle recruiting case study page has more information.
NCTech4Good (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, USA) has a team to plan our annual conferences and monthly meetings. Usually one of us can come up with an idea based on feedback from previous meetings or conversations with people who came.
3 is the magic number – Net2NO (New Orleans, LA, USA) – Net2NO was launched by one person, Jessica Rohloff, but before our first meetup Damien Lamanna had stepped up as co-organizer, so we had a two-person organizing team for the first year. Eventually, we gained a third co-organizer, Andrew Larimer, which made a huge difference in terms of our capacity, ability to produce high-quality events, and even resulted in securing a new venue. (We had outgrown our original location.) Evidently, three is the magic number when it comes to leadership teams. We tried splitting up the work by assigning each person a role: sponsorship, announcements/venue, and speaker/topic lineup. That hasn’t really worked out, because someone will get busy and the other organizers will end up booking speakers, for example. But having three people on the organizing team has been instrumental to our ongoing success. It’s too much work for one person, and more than three often leads to balls being dropped (our now-defunct chapter of Social Media Club ran into this issue). Three really is the magic number.
- Sharing responsibility – Los Angeles, CA, USA: Find 3 organizers to share the load. Every organizer needs to be 100% passionate, but each will only have 1/3 of the responsibility. If one person can’t dedicate time to Net2 for a month, there are two others who can pick up the slack.
- Recruit From Within – Chicago, IL: One of the advantages to our group is that, as organizers, we often see some members who take an active role in either driving conversation and/or helping organize a particular meeting. At least two of our current organizers began as regular members of the group, and were also extremely active in shaping group activities. Too often, choosing someone who raises their hand and/or selecting someone to “help them out” might be counterproductive. Identifying potential team members from within the group who take on an active role is a skill that needs to be cultivated
- Assigning roles – Madrid, Spain: We work in a “plain group” of six members, in which everyone has a different role. However, in each project/event there is an “event leader” and a hierarchy. Anyone can take the lead in one project or another. That helps you to feel the stress and responsibility of the organization of an event, as well as it helps you to develop yourself by taking new challenges. Here are a few pieces of advice for managing this team style:
- It is important to go bottom up, instead of top to down. People must feel the project as self-created, we are not trying to sell them anything.
- Make your message sticky and involve your attendees. We have create a middle level between the advisory team and the attendees: the ambassadors. They are just partly involved in the organization of the event, but enough to feel it as partly theirs. However, their main duty is to help us to amplify the message we are trying to send.
- Learn by doing, not just thinking
- Stop talking, start doing
- Pay attention to the detail, that makes the difference between good and awesome
To find other organizers and learn about other groups, use the links below: