How to Start a Group
Step 1: Developing a Vision Statement and Communicating the Vision
Developing a Vision and Statement
Developing a vision statement is an important part of any successful organization. A common vision or belief is what will keep your group connected and committed to achieving the group goals. Your vision should reflect what you want members, potential members, and the public to understand the groups purpose to be.
- The overall vision should be large and broad and provide outsiders with a clear understanding of the groups goals
- It should be easy to communicate in a few well-chosen words and phrases and should explain clearly and succinctly what the group is about. Make it concise, informative and upbeat.
- Vision Statement Example: 1) To raise awareness of and to promote Iranian culture
Communicating the Vision
Creating the Vision
- Talk to People. Articulating to others the group's goals will help more clearly define the vision for you and for those listening. The more you do it the better you'll get at delivering your message, and the more powerful the message will become.
- Listen To People. Be open and listen to how others respond to the articulation of your vision. You'll know by their response if they understand and support your vision and goals. Use this feedback to make modifications if required.
Step 2: Building a Base, Check the Rules, Find a Faculty Advisor
Build a Base
You are trying to build a new group of people that is committed to your vision. Most groups have a core of 3-5 people coordinating the work and organizing the group's meetings, which are attended by anywhere from 5-50 people! Involving as many people as possible around the core group who will work and join in planning is what building a base is all about. So where do these people come from?
Talk to fellow students
- Between classes, during lunch, before or after school, informally talk to your fellow students.
- Talk to small groups of students, engaging them in the discussion, and listen carefully to everyone's ideas.
- If your school has dormitories canvass in them or have a table at the front desk.
- When you meet students that are really interested, get them involved in talking to others. This will allow you to reach out to new contacts (individual or groups) whom they know
- Identify people who can be crucial to your group, such as individuals with skills and or connections that would benefit the group.
Speak to groups
- Address meetings of groups that you belong to and other groups at school or in the community, such as the student council.
- Ask for time at the end of a class to make an announcement.
- Attend events and meetings of other cultural groups – start building relationships with other communities early in the process.
- Contact your multicultural affairs office and let them know that you’ll be starting a group and would like support in reaching out to other Iranian students.
Don't leave people or groups out because you don't know them or because they're part of a different religious group. Diversity brings a wider range of ideas, opinions, talents and connections.
Carefully track everyone that you speak to. Keep a record of their contact information and make a note about their level of interest, skills, or concerns. Be sure to follow-up with them in a timely manner.
- New volunteers need to be contacted within 24-48 hours. If they request additional information get it to them in a similar timeframe. If you don't have all the information in that time period contact them anyway to make sure they know that you haven't forgotten about their interest or their request.
- Follow up initial phone calls with an email. Don't overuse email – it is a great way to communicate with those who are already active, but it doesn't replace personal contact.
- Remember that most people are moved to join through personal contact.
- Create a simple informational flyer or handout that is easily copied, and always have extras on hand.
- Use flyers to announce your work and to encourage people to join in. Always include a contact name and phone number, and suggest ways that people can get involved.
Hold an information session
- Everyone knows someone whom you don't know. Ask your friends, neighbors, and classmates if they know someone who may want to be involved. Whenever you meet someone new be sure to ask them if they know someone else who may want to be involved.
- Networking is a very effective tool, because people generally respond better to personal interaction.
Important note: Does your school or campus have any rules and regulations that you have to abide by if you want to organize a club? Find out if there are any limitations on the activities you can carry out. For example, some schools do not allow fundraising within the school, and sometimes parental permission slips must be signed for special events or trips to conferences, etc.
Find a faculty advisor
Find a faculty advisor who is willing to be a liaison between your group and the school administration. Faculty advisors can be a great resource and can offer ideas and support.