Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Local campaign groups are like Timelords, so let there be relaunches!

'Relaunch' is Tim-speak for a local campaign group - lower on any of numbers, morale and energy than it would like - making a concerted effort over a few months to find people, esprit de corps and inspiration.

This usually has as its focus a shared campaign, project, action or event – something to work on together, providing a sense of common purpose and a point of attraction for newcomers.

It can also entail:

  • Help from staff, as a catalyst for change and a coach, sometimes as collaborators
  • Supportive, mentoring relationships between experienced and new members
  • A reimagining of group culture combining the best of the old with new perspectives, although if experienced members are around less this can be a wholesale regeneration, Dr Who style.
  • A passing on of the torch, with new members taking key roles in the key group
  • A intergenerational renewal of the group

Image by Steve Collis via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

A few words on when to relaunch: clearly, the best relaunch is the relaunch you don't need to do because your volunteer group is constantly renewing itself, you have kick ass induction processes, all your campaigns are accessible and involving etc etc. You're always centripetal rather than centrifugal.

However, back in the real world, my feeling is that every 2-3 years feels on average about right for a cycle of renewal, with healthy groups able to extend that cycle perhaps to closer to 5 years.

Staff often get asked to be involved in relaunches when the experienced members are close to giving up, or the group itself has become a 'zombie', existing in name but scarcely meeting, a shell of what it was. Needless to say, these aren't optimal times to affect change, but sometimes we can help turn things around.

I'd be keen to support groups to get on a cycle of renewal as a matter of course rather than rushing in at the eleventh hour, so part of my motivation for writing this post is to try and shift that paradigm.

The more immediate motivation is that I've been asked by the Watford group to provide some examples of successful relaunches for their upcoming AGM. So stand by for some case studies on the blog over the course of this week. All of them have involved some staff input, but the fundamental point is that they aren't doing anything you couldn't either do for yourselves or ask them for anyway.

Hopefully, this will give us all an idea of what happens when relaunches work, as well as of the different tools at your disposal.

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