There are a variety of group structures ranging from informal to formal. It is important for your group to make well-informed decisions about your status by determining priorities and goals for your organization and campaigns. Use the table below to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different group structures. Your decision should consider the group’s goals, funding needs, and the group’s comfort level in engaging in public advocacy on a controversial issue.
Determining a Group Structure
Determining the structure of a new group is one of the most important tasks when people start collaborating and working together. By tackling some of these simple tasks early, you can alleviate confusion and disorganization down the road.
Developing clear goals, objectives, and timelines.
Recruit a group of trustworthy individuals.
Establish roles within the group like someone to lead meetings, manage finances, and take meeting minutes.
Always be recruiting new volunteers.
Delegate tasks within the group so that no one individual is overwhelmed with the majority of the work. Sometimes establishing subcommittees can be the best way to understand who in the group is willing to be responsible for certain tasks.
Create a mission statement as well as clear goals for your campaigns.
Create bylaws to establish a decision-making process.
Record meeting notes to create a record (needed later if you decide to establish a formal group).
Develop a budget.
Difference Between "Supporters" & "Members"
As your group develops, you may notice that people want to contribute in different ways and in varying amounts of time. It is important to define what “membership” means to your group in terms of expectations of a person’s commitment of time and or resources.
There may be individuals who are just interested in following the work you are doing and members who want to be more deeply involved.
Some groups define supporters as individuals who are interested in your work and are willing to participate without being directly involved. Some examples include following you on social media, signing up for your newsletter, or simply agreeing with your mission.
Members are different because they have committed their time or financial resources to your cause. Some groups charge a fee (recurring or one-time) to become a member and usually offer additional incentives for memberships. It is crucial for formal groups to build a list of members and supporters for both legal and fundraising efforts. Membership can be important for legal purposes when your group wants to be formally involved in legal proceedings. For fundraising, memberships help you solicit donations and are necessary to establish a formal group status. Community groups should involve their members in developing long-term goals.
Advantages & Disadvantages
E: Start Your Own Group
If you can’t find a group already started in your area, start your own! Now that you’ve educated yourself about shale gas development, the next step is to share it with others to find people willing to help you. When a new shale gas project is proposed, talk one-on-one with your family, friends and neighbors about the impact it would have on your daily lives. Community organizing happens when residents come together to determine what is best for their community and then take coordinated and strategic steps to advance shared goals. This section provides detailed information on how to form a community group or nonprofit, many of which often start out as one or two individuals who take the initiative to educate and empower others. If you have not found at least one or two people to help start a group in your community, try hosting a meeting to discuss concerns about a proposed project and potential next steps in order to meet others interested in working on the issue together. You can also look at sign-in forms from past township or other public meetings and call people to see if they are interested in helping out.