Governance - Mission And Idea Guide

Governance - Mission And Idea Guide

You might have a strong idea for what you want to do, most people know what activities they want to deliver.  But, have you thought about why? Many groups have just thought that their activity would be ‘fun’ or it was a good idea and base their whole group around the activity.  When starting a group (or even if you are already running one) it’s useful to ask yourself an important question; why are we here?

Creating a Strong Mission

A strong mission lays down what you want to achieve.  It doesn’t usually say how that happens.  This can often be a good thing because you aren’t restricted by thinking about just the activity.  Your mission might be to reduce the number of people feeling lonely or to support people to express themselves better and relieving stress or anxiety.  Thinking of your group as achieving an outcome can mean that whatever you plan or do always has to work towards that mission.  So, the organisation to reduce loneliness wouldn’t challenge people to go out on individual walks to achieve a set number of steps.  You should always be thinking about how you are reducing that loneliness.

Whatever your mission or your aim, everything you do should be working towards your goal and making that difference to the community.


Assessing the Need

Anyone can set up a community group doing almost anything (well, anything legal that is) and sometimes people will attend and sometimes they won’t.  Sometimes people come because there is nothing else in the area or you are the best of a bad bunch.  It’s also worth thinking is that people come thinking it’s because of one reason but in reality, it turns out to be something else entirely!  Having a clear mission helps people choose if your group is for them.  But, how do you know if it’s what the community needs?

The most effective way of doing this is by reaching out and asking people.  Either in person, if you know where they meet to do something different from what you’re offering or online through surveys or social media.  Ask them what their challenges are or how they feel, this can be a good way of being guided towards what people might need from you, how they want it delivered and when.

You can also back this up by checking local statistics.  You can look and see what health inequalities exist for example by looking at the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment on the Warrington Borough Council website which will give you all kinds of local information.

Use all of this information, plus your thoughts and ideas to work out what you can do in the space you have with the resources you have.  Remember you are unlikely to be able to solve all the problems in the world or even one of them.  You will however be able to reduce someone’s stress about a situation or give them the information or skills to deal with something.  Never underestimate the power of overcoming the little things.


What are you going to do?

Once you have an idea of what you want to do and why there are some other parts you need to consider.  Think about the people and problems you want to help and what they need.  If you want to help children, a session during a weekday in term time is no use as most of them will be in school.  It sounds off to say this out loud but so many groups haven’t lasted because when they delivered suited them and not the people they wanted to help.

Consider transport, do your people drive there (is there a car park?).  Is the place you are working out of on a bus route?  Is it dark round there, will people have to walk and will they stop coming in the winter when they are concerned about their security?  We’ll talk more about venues in a later section.

Revisit your activity ideas and see if they still fit your vision.  Are they pitched at the right level for the people you are working with?  Are they going to love the challenge or be put off by how hard what you’re offering is?  Will they finish it in ten minutes and be bored?  You will also be able to create or provide enough resources for people to do what you're offering.  Are there limits to how many people you can work with at a time?  We’ll talk more about this in a later section.

The point of the group is to be there for the people in the community, not for them to be there for you.  Create opportunities and activities that mean something to them and are going to work towards achieving your mission. 


Creating a Forward Plan

Now that you have decided who wants what and you have planned activities and offered them to people you need to start thinking about how this will look in the future.  Often, you will have to patient, most groups don’t go perfectly at the start.  There are either more people than you know what do to with or hardly anyone and it feels like a waste of time.  Getting through the first six to nine months is often the hardest.  It’s a good time to experiment, talk to people and gather their opinions (not just users, but volunteers and committee too!).  Try to work out what works and what doesn’t.  It’s a good habit to get into and even if you have been going for a while, beyond some testimonials from some faithful supporters you know will say good things if you ask them too, what do people feel about what you provide?

Think about how your activities are going to grow as your people do, let’s use the example of a ukulele group.  You’ve spent six months teaching everyone the magic 4 chords that they need to play a hundred songs everyone has a great time.  Imagine three months later when you’re all still playing the same 4 chords, getting boring yet?  In 12 months and you’re still doing the same thing, how many people are still coming?  You need to have a plan on how you are going to grow and develop them whilst still being able to welcome new people.  When is a good time to bring in 3 new chords which open up another hundred songs?

Part of your forward plan is also thinking about what money or resources you might need.  What your ideas are for when or if you outgrow the current venue you are in and need to accommodate more people?  Is your team willing and able to keep working on it for the long haul or are you going to need to keep replacing people for your committee and volunteers?  Just having these plans in the back of your mind is helpful for when the situation arises, you might not need them but these challenges often appear without warning.

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