Everyone has a role

In the team, everybody has a role and each role determines the success of each person. The challenge of roles is ensuring they are delegated to the right people.

What type of roles are there?

Roles should be based on the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. What does our team need and what resources do we have? Each role should have qualities as well as responsibilities: what are the specific details the role entails, rather than abstract titles.

Here are some example roles. This is not an extensive list and you should make your own based on the needs of the team:

  1. Team co-ordinator: facilitating meetings, coaching the team, holding people to account.
  2. Volunteer co-ordinator: builds the volunteer base, enjoys 1-to-1s and meeting new people.
  3. Communications: newspapers, television, online media…anything that is communicating your message publicly.
  4. Events co-ordinator: ensures all actions/events run smoothly. Has attention to detail and is organised.
  5. Researcher: will lead on the information for the power analysis, find out any policy opportunities and the people you need to know. They enjoy working on a computer and have attention to detail.
  6. Fundraiser: raising money for the functioning of the group, for events, training, enjoys writing and is good with meeting influential people.
  7. Training: lead in the running and facilitation of training sessions, enjoys public speaking and has a good knowledge of the methods of organising

How to decide roles

Everyone should speak honestly about their skills and interests, to fully understand the resources in the room. Go around and ask each person to share their strongest skills and one limitation/something they need support with. People should share what roles would give them energy and drain them. It is ok if it’s more than one. This will not only help with role setting, but also in training and leadership development.

For example you may feel you would get lots of energy from training but also enjoy the chase of raising money. You may say you don’t enjoy writing press or being on social media, so communications is out for you.

Once everyone has shared, people can negotiate their preferred roles. Two people may want to be head of communications but only one feels confident to head volunteer outreach; can they compromise on this? You keep working at it until you find a match.

When you have been given your role, you are responsible for the bottom line outcomes; you are not responsible for getting it done alone. The team will be working with lots of volunteers who want to contribute. Only the stuff that can not be delegated to these brilliant people should come to the team leader.

Volunteers are everything

Each team member will be responsible for supporting volunteers who join their team. They show up because they want to work for the issue and make the campaign successful. Your job is work with them as colleagues. They are the power and will walk away when patronised or ignored. When someone new joins, do not give bad tasks to test commitment. Eat your own dog food, as Becky Bond, author of Rules for Radicals, would say.

Trust volunteers with responsibility and valuable work. Provide them with the training they need. You may feel very special in your organising role or director title, but these folks have leadership roles in everyday life, are probably much more senior to you, and are lifeblood in the community. Treat them with the enormous respect they deserve.