By Hope Horton, with illustrations by Evangeline Weiss
A group of 20 LUCKY FOLKS showed up for the March Last Saturday event with the dynamic activist and organizer, Evangeline Weiss of Beyond Conflict. Evangeline has decades of experience building volunteer teams in the thousands to make positive change in the world. And she does it by following a few key steps which she shared with us in such an enthusiastic and interactive way that the time flew by! She even made a cool and colorful booklet for us that walks us through each stage.
Let’s face it: Hart’s Mill is at a stage where we need to attract more members who are aligned with our vision and mission. It’s not unusual for a few key people to do much of the work in organizations in the beginning, but at a certain point the system needs more energy. Evangeline outlined how starting with as few as five core leaders we can attract fifty, even five hundred more. Sounds impossible? Let’s see how this works!
But FIRST, a huge appreciation for the people who made this event happen: to Maria, who invited her friend Evangeline to come to Hart’s Mill (a great ASK—see below). To amazing Evangeline for carving out some time and saying “yes” to this event. To Nell and George who came early to clean, set up, and greet arrivals (see below under ROLES). And to all of us who have been working so hard…for so long… We’ve got so much going for us but need some tweaks (like engaging people in something other than a meeting!). Intrigued? Read on.
It all starts with…WHY do we want to build bigger teams? What’s our purpose? What inspires us and keeps us going at the end of a long day? And in particular, why do we want to bring in more people RIGHT NOW? We called out some of the reasons why we will persevere, no matter what, until we actualize our vision.
So, we’re having an event. RADICAL WELCOME comes next. How prepared are we to craft a really great experience? Are people greeted with a smile? Is there a warm and lively atmosphere? Do people know where to go and what to do, right away? Are there snacks and other comforts? What can we do to help people to be glad they came, from the get-go? Do our guests feel appreciated? Be sure to treat everyone like royalty!
And how about ROLES? Events are multi-faceted and people want to feel useful and valued. (Just ask Nell and George, who felt really good about their event contributions.) Are we clear about the tasks that need to get done, and how to do them? Do people have the tools/information they need to succeed? (BONUS FUN FACT: Do you know the #1 thing people fight about in organizations? Answer: Lack of clarity in roles and goals.) People like to be engaged; to do something that contributes to success. (Note to Hart’s Mill: find ways to get people involved other than inviting them to observe meetings…at least in the early stages….)
Okay, we’re in the thick of the event. Notice what happens. The TALENT SCOUTING portion of the process begins with a debrief. Who really rocked at their job, worked hard, took initiative, and followed through? Who has appetite for the community? What skills did people demonstrate? Name the folks we noticed and would really like to have more involved. Reach out to them, ONE ON ONE. Make a phone call. Meet for “coffee.” Find out more about them and how to speak to their passion for what we are doing. And then ASK, ASK, ASK for what we need. A STRONG ASK presents a problem, gives a solution, and shows someone how they can help.
Evangeline suggested that in these conversations we spend half the time getting really curious about our new friend and finding out what calls to them about our community. But then we need a consistent way to describe Hart’s Mill—a SCRIPT, as it were, so that we all have a common way to describe our community. In the last quarter, we ask our friend for something we need, that they can provide. After they say “yes” (of course!), we CONFIRM the request and follow through until it’s done.
There’s a bit more to it, but these are the basics. This process can be a GAME CHANGER for Hart’s Mill only if we work at it. We need a common way to describe Hart’s Mill (the SCRIPT). We’re so prepared for our meetings–how about being just as prepared for events? Welcome people, assign roles, and follow-up with the stars, one-on-one. Yes, it’s going to take time and effort, and it’ll be worth it to expand our core group and engage the people who are ready and waiting for what we have to offer.
One more huge THANK YOU to Evangeline!!!
READY? Let’s GROW and GO!