Building Your Team

Build teams with members of diverse race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ability as well as from all different backgrounds, organizations, sectors, and job types.

“We think having a large group of diverse organizers who pitch in as they’re able can be better than a small, homogenous group of organizers, even if the smaller group is more devoted and hard-working. That’s because diverse organizers can help attract more diverse speakers and attendees, which leads to livelier discussions at our events and more cross-pollination of ideas. Plus, it’s easier for a small group of devoted, hard-working people to burn out. We’re pretty flexible about the level of time commitment, which makes it easy for organizers to contribute when they’re able to and avoid guilt when they’re not.” – S.J.T, Tech Club Organizer

Introduce potential co-organizers to NTEN’s community manager and have them fill out the volunteer application. Once approved by NTEN, add them to the organizers and volunteers document in your Google Drive folder.

Working Together

Working as an all-volunteer team can be difficult. We recommend getting together regularly to chat about how events are going, check-in on everyone’s volunteer capacity and commitment levels, and ultimately get to know teammates better.

Don’t assume that a volunteer wants to do the same thing in their free time as they do during their day job. Figure out what team members really want to do and assign tasks accordingly. Once you know what skills or interests are missing, you can more easily recruit an additional organizer or volunteer to fill those specific gaps.

Some teams take turns serving as the lead event creator (i.e. that person decides the topic, recruits the presenter, secures the venue, etc.) while the rest of the team helps with promotion or event-day logistics. Other groups choose to assign a set of responsibilities so the same person. Regardless of how you structure your team, make sure everyone knows who is responsible for each task. This will make it easier to support each other should someone need to step back for a bit.

Teams may want to gather for a more focused retreat every few months. Nonprofit Tech Club – Portland’s Sara R. described such an event:

“Last December we did a low-key planning retreat for [our Tech Club] at my place—pizza, snacks, warm apple cider, and glühwein! It really helped guide the year for when things got unexpectedly busy. We opened with a big-picture review of the year, and I shared a quick analysis of attendee feedback. Then we brain-dumped things we’d like to do more of and things we’d like to do differently into a spreadsheet. Lastly we started to nail down themes and a ‘lead’ for each month along with potential speaker ideas. From there, each lead fleshed out their month’s speaker and other planning details. Then we documented everything in Trello.”