Follow these five steps to run a welcome night to bring new members into your community group!
While you can invite new sign-ups straight to your group meetings, this isn't always the best experience for someone new.
Welcome nights are great because you offer new people a friendly and low-bar activity to help them find their feet. They should be about getting to know them, what they care about and their motivations, and an opportunity to hear what your group is all about.
Running a big online event for new people might sound like a lot of work. But if you break it down into the five steps below – and assign a few roles – it becomes highly manageable.
Set a date and time. Make sure it works for at least a few group members so that multiple people can help out. At least two weeks is a good lead in time.
Schedule your event on Zoom so that you have a link to share with supporters who are interested in participating.
Create your event on Action Centre so that you can promote your welcome night and collect and follow-up RSVPs.
Make a recruitment plan. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Write down how you'll use email, calls, text and other channels to recruit RSVPs. This will help you delegate parts to others. Here is a good starting point:
Delegate recruitment tasks. One group member should coordinate recruitment. They'll need to enlist others to share the load of putting it into action.
Assign roles for the event. Ideally you'll have three or more group members helping out on the night. Assign a primary facilitator, a chat-box buddy, and a tech-lead. It's helpful if someone is keeping time too.
Go over your agenda. Make sure you're all familiar with the content, how long each section should run, and talk through any parts you think might be challenging. You can use our agenda template and presentation slides.
Confirm your RSVPs. Find your RSVP list in Action Centre, and call your RSVPs the day before. Help make the event real for them – ask them if they've used Zoom before and where they'll call in from. Putting them in the mindset of actually attending greatly increases the likelihood they'll be there.
Send a reminder email. This can go to your whole list or just your RSVPs.
Test out Zoom. Test your Zoom link, and consider having a dry run with a few group members to become confident with the technology.
Start your Zoom meeting early. Opening your meeting 15 minutes early helps you settle in and go over anything last-minute with your co-facilitators.
Welcome people as they arrive. Make sure at least one facilitator doesn't have their head buried in the tech, so that everyone is properly welcomed as they join.
Have fun! Your attendees have joined you because they are like-minded nature-lovers, seeking connection and opportunities to take action. Building a positive vibe and good relationships is your top priority.
Following up after your event ensures all your hard work pays off!
Debrief as a team. What worked well, what challenges did you encounter, what would you do differently next time?
Mark attendees in Action Centre. This helps you keep track of how engaged people on your list are, and who's taken what action.
Make follow-up calls to attendees. Call your attendees a day or two after the welcome night. See how they found it, invite feedback and questions that didn't come up at the time, and talk about what's next. At this stage, you might even assign them a 'buddy' – an existing group member who can be their go-to for group matters, to help them settle in and feel welcome.
Check-in with no-shows. Make sure they're ok! Via call or text ask if there were any barriers to coming that could be addressed next time. Stress they're very welcome at the next event you hold.
Report back to the ACF Community. Jump on the #acf-community Slack channel to share and celebrate your experience. How did it feel? What advise to you have for other groups?
You're all done! You've successfully run a welcome night, and opened an avenue for like-minded supporters to take action with your group. That's a big achievement.
Welcome night coordinator. This person is responsible for the event as a whole. They don't do all the work, but make sure all the steps and roles on the night are filled.
Recruitment coordinator. They make a recruitment plan, and where necessary coordinate other group members to make calls, emails and texts.
Recruitment helpers. Ideally you have a handful of group members that are trained and comfortable making calls via Action Centre. Set goals – can everyone call 40 people – with at least two attempts each – over the course of a week?
Roles during the event: