10 Apr 2023
Friends of the Earth only requires your group to have one formal role – a coordinator. Within your group, you can call it something else of course, some groups prefer secretary or chair. They're the main point of contact for the group, and are responsible for ensuring it adheres to the terms set out in the Trademark Licence Agreement and local action group charter – the formal documents setting out the relationship between Friends of the Earth and your group.
Beyond this, groups are free to organise themselves as they wish. Some groups like to carve out specific roles, and others prefer to divide the group work into tasks. Our recommendation is to keep things light and accessible and include as many people as possible in the running of the group, allowing people to take on tasks that suit them and feel achievable. Some people might be put off taking on roles if they feel too time consuming and heavy.
We've put together a simple exercises you can do as a group to allocate tasks among members, and a list of suggested tasks that are likely to come up in your group and that you can use as a template for distributing work.
In reality a lot of these tasks are closely interrelated – for example, a newsletter will depend on contributions from people who look after the campaigns and project. Working together as a team is the bedrock of any successful group.
Task allocation exercise
You can use our suggested process to allocate tasks to members of your group. This can be done in one session, or feel free to split the exercises over a number of meetings.
(10-15 minutes) Collate a list of tasks required for your group to function as well as it can. Make sure you are being as specific as possible. You can use our list as a starting point and add to or take away from it, or start from scratch and match it up later.
(10 minutes) Get everyone to individually think about and write down:
- What they currently do to support the running and effectiveness of the group at the moment.
- What, if anything, they would like to hand over to someone else.
- How much time can they contribute to the group.
- Their skills or interests.
(15 minutes) Split into small groups to look at the task list you put together at the start of the session and identify any tasks they would be happy to do or are currently doing. Now's the time to add any tasks that are missing from the list, which people might have identified.
(30 minutes) Run through the list as a whole group. If you have multiple people volunteering for the same task, consider whether they could work as a team, or whether one person wants to step back from it.
(10 minutes) Identify any tasks for which there are no volutneers. Think about how essential these are to running the group. If they are, you could set up a rota system to split the responsibility for these between multiple people. If identified tasks aren't essential, they might be a nice responsibility to hand over to new members to ease them into the group.
Remember to review the list of tasks every few months to ensure people are comfortable and confident in delivering the tasks they have signed up to. People's life circumstances may have changed, or they may feel that they're drawn to a different task. Members should feel free to hand things over to someone else and take on new tasks, so that they enjoy their time with the group. And it's important they know there will be regular opportunities to do this.
We hope that you will feel confident running this exercise together as a group. However, if for any reason you would prefer a member of staff to facilitate your group through this process get in touch and we will be happy to help.
Suggested list of tasks
- Organising the monthly meeting venue
- Putting together an agenda
- Inviting speakers
- Facilitating the meeting
- Taking notes during meetings
- Tracking action points
- Managing the email inbox
- Managing the group communications channel – adding new people, removing departed people.
- Circulating notes and information
- Feedback and updates for Friends of the Earth
- Maintaining existing membership
- Welcoming and supporting new members
- Managing an Action Network account
- Looking for training opportunities
Communication and promotion
- Organising events
- Managing the group’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (different people might be responsible for different platforms)
- Managing group website (if you have one)
- Holding relationships with the local media
- Writing press releases and contributions to the local media
- Designing stalls and public-facing materials (like posters and props)
- Graphic design
- Taking photos at events
- Putting together a group newsletter
- Keeping an eye on cashflow and budget
- Managing income (paying into the bank or looking after petty cash)
- Exploring and developing new revenue streams
- Encouraging the group to spend money
- Being a bank signatory
Policy and procedural
- Taking on the responsibility of being the group's safeguarding lead
- Checking insurance coverage
- Writing risk assessments
- Campaign planning
- Designing actions and stunts
- Building relationships within the community or other groups in the area
- Doing research
- Holding policy expertise on a particular issue
- Being a campaign spokesperson
- Representing the group in other events or meetings within your community
- Looking out for members’ wellbeing
- Seeking support (from Friends of the Earth staff or peers)
- Organising socials
- Celebrating successes