In this guide, we will help you to get started as a project facilitator. We encourage you to to keep this document up-to-date. This will help you and your successor! Also make sure to check out the other guides for the core circle.
Summary: As a project facilitator, you facilitate collaboration between circles. You think about the big picture, keeping the focus on the purpose of our organisation. You jump in when there are vacancies and you support inexperienced volunteers.
Role definition: You can find the exact purpose, domain and accountabilities of this circle in Airtable.
¶ 1. Be flexible and proactive
The role of project facilitator is different than most other roles: your accountabilities will vary over time, depending on who needs your help most.
This means that you will have to be flexible: sometimes you have to be proactive and take the initiative, other times, circles will benefit more if you step aside and give them more autonomy.
It is not your job to do everything others fail to do. Instead, you role is to help others to come to their full potential. Only if you think that temporarily taking over some responsibilities will make circles more autonomous in the long run, you should do so.
At Activist Handbook, we want to make it possible for everyone to contribute. Sometimes, people do not yet have experience in the new role they take up. We try to help them as much as possible using guides and video calls for new members. However, there will always be unexpected difficulties. As project facilitator, it is your job to spot these gaps and provide solutions that prevent these things from happening in the future.
You are primarily responsible for supporting core circle members. In principle, coordinators are responsible supporting their fellow circle members. Give coordinators the space to address difficulties within their circles. However, when a circle as a whole is having difficulties, you may take up a more active role (e.g. joining their circle meetings).
Take a step back as soon as you notice the role or circle is functioning well enough. In many cases, volunteers will step up their game if they notice you trust them to take up a responsibility.
One of the most important tasks of the project facilitator is to keep an overview of what is happening between various circles. In the following cases, your help is needed:
- 💬 A role is not/insufficiently reporting back to their circles. For example, all core circle members are responsible for reporting back to the core circle (and all circle members to their respective coordinator). Without updates, you and other circles cannot properly do their job. If they fail to do so, you need to step in.
- 😓 A circle or core circle member is having difficulties. If you notice a circle or role is inactive, not delivering on promises or struggling to fulfil their purpose, it is your time to step in. In some cases, a role or circle will bring up these difficulties themselves. In other cases (like described in the point before), you need to identify the problems yourself.
To prevent difficulties to arise in the first place, make sure to offer your support in the following cases:
- 📁 A new project is being started. Do not expect everyone to be a professional project manager straight away. Take a proactive role to see if they need any help getting started. With more experienced volunteers, you can take a more relaxed approach.
- ⭕ New core circle members: In the first months, regularly check in with new core circle members to see if they need any help.
If you know a circle is in need of help, take a proactive role. Join their circle meetings and Slack channels and analyse what is the root cause of their difficulties.
Important: Before you take steps to address any difficulties, make sure to talk with everyone involved!
Ask them whether they have ideas on how to improve the situation. Offer solutions in the form of proposals, not demands.
You may encounter the following problems:
- 🐣 Inexperience: In many cases, our volunteers take up roles they do not have previous experience with. See if you have the expertise to train them yourself, or if there is someone else within the organisation who can help. It can also help to open up a vacancy for someone with more experience. In a case of impostor syndrome, letting them know you trust their ability might also help.
- 😞 Work overload: Sometimes, one role is just too much work for one person. Our volunteers often partake in other initiatives, so they may have little time available. The first step one has to take is to start clearly communication how much time they have available. When you expect it to be a long-term issue, recruit someone who can either assist or replace them.
- 💔 Personal circumstances: If you think or know that someone is dealing with personal circumstances , you can recommend them to talk with our wellbeing facilitator. Determine whether it is a long term or short term issue.
- 🔕 Irresponsiveness:
- You may notice someone does not regularly respond to messages.
- Reach out via other channels (phone for example) and ask if others have had contact. Give them at least 2 to 3 weeks to respond. After that, try to make an educated guess whether they will return in on a short term basis. If this is not the case, inform them you will be opening up a vacancy for the role. Leave open the possibility for them to return and recommend them to talk to our wellbeing person.
- Irresponsiveness may be the result of a work overload or personal circumstances. It is also possible, however, that the problem is of a technical nature: ask if they need help with installing the Slack app and turning on notifications.
Before starting a new project, a project proposal needs to be written. As project facilitator, it is your task to:
- Assist people in writing these proposals. Give constructive feedback on the proposals written.
- Ensure projects are only started when their purpose is a priority for Activist Handbook at that point in time. The priority of projects is determined by looking at the amount of resources available (volunteers, money and otherwise) and the degree to which the project aligns with the purpose of Activist Handbook.
- Facilitate good collaboration between everyone involved in the project. Make sure everyone is in the loop and facilitate an atmosphere in which all people in relevant roles can contribute.
- Check up regularly to see if progress is being made. If this is not the case, identity why this is the case.
Besides regular meetings and events, make sure to schedule a personal check-in video call with all volunteers at least once half a year.
Here are some topics to talk about:
- Their personal wellbeing: what other things do they have going on in their life? Recommend them to have a call with our wellbeing facilitator, if there is something personal they would like to talk about in confidence.
- Their experience as volunteer for activist handbook (after every question ask: is there anything you'd like to see changed?)
- Organisation & community
- What goes well within our organisation? What could be improved?
- Have they been able to connect with fellow volunteers?
- How did they experience our support (website, facilitation and coordinating roles)?
- Is our communication clear (upcoming events and meetings)?
- Do they have the feeling they know who to reach out to if there's something they'd like to work on?
- What do you like about your role? Is there something they would like to change about their role? Anything you don't really like doing?
- Do they feel like they can take initiative? Is there anything you would like
- Is the workload right for them? Would you like to be more actively involved, or is there anything you would like to delegate?
- Is their work diverse enough?
- Their plans for upcoming year: Are they planning to continue their work as volunteer in the upcoming year? What other things do they expect to have going on?
¶ Relevant articles
No relevant external resources have been added to this page yet.