Starting a new Greenpeace group

Welcome to our guide on how to set up a new local Greenpeace group/network.

This six step plan takes you through what’s involved, helps you find other people to join your group, organise a few events and leads you to the ‘formal’ process of becoming an official Greenpeace group.

Please note, before becoming an official Greenpeace local group, with access to campaign materials, budget and staff support, you need to have an induction meeting with a staff member, so please contact us before setting up a new group

Step 1 - Do a bit of research
Step 2 - Create a group on Greenwire and find some members
Step 3 - Organise your first meeting
Step 4 - Organise your first event
Step 5 - Apply to become an official Greenpeace group
Step 6 - Now you're "authorised" - what next?


Introduction

Coordinating a local Greenpeace group is fun, empowering and rewarding. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and help Greenpeace win campaigns in interesting ways. It also requires common sense, commitment, some luck, taking responsibility for deciding what you want to do, and then doing it.

How we campaign: Greenpeace campaigns are centrally organised, and usually have a global focus. There are lots of different ways local groups can support Greenpeace, however if you would like to campaign on specific local issues, or to plan your own local campaigns then Friends of the Earth groups may be what you’re looking for, as they have a bit more autonomy. Greenpeace local groups often do a bit of everything, but some specialise in fundraising, campaigning or public outreach. Have a look at other local groups on Greenwire to get an idea of what active supporters do or watch this video:

If you would like to campaign on international issues, where 1000s of Greenpeace supporters across the world campaign together on the same issue, then please get involved.

Time commitment: Establishing or coordinating an active group can take 5-10 hours a month, or more if you so choose. It can take between 6 months and 2 years to really get going.

Please don’t be put off by this, but have a think. If you’re leaving to go to University, or travelling in 6 months time, then perhaps this isn’t the best time for you.


1. Do a bit of research

Please spend some time researching your local area, so you can determine whether a Greenpeace group is viable there.

  • How big is your town? A population of 50K+ is helpful
  • How close is the nearest Greenpeace local group? Get in touch with them via Greenwire, as they may be able to help you. If possible, attend one of their events or meetings and chat with the coordinator and other members to get some tips.
  • We also have a group of experienced volunteer community coaches, who can help you with advice on setting up a new group.

There is no exact formula for what makes a good area to start up a Greenpeace group, but being familiar with what’s out there and what the obstacles are, will really help.

Friends and family: If you have 1-2 friends or family members who want to help you, even if only for the first 6 months, that will make things much easier. If you already have 4-6 friends who you think will be reliably active, then you’re almost done.

Find people on Greenwire: There are already over 2500 people on Greenwire and almost 100 new people are signing up each week. If there is no local group near you, there is a good chance there are some other keen people on Greenwire who would be interested in helping you set one up. Watch this short video on how to find people in your local area

Greenpeace’s history and core values: It’s very important to be aware of our core values, as they permeate all of our work and we ask all our staff and volunteers to adhere to them. It can also be useful to know about the origins of Greenpeace and the kinds of issues we have campaigned on over our 40+ year history: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/about/impact/history

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2. Create a group on Greenwire and find some members

First, make sure there definitely isn’t already a group in your area by doing a search.

Then create a local group on Greenwire.

Now find some people and invite them to join your group.

Once you’ve done that, it’s a good idea to create some content for your group - maybe start with a blog on why you wanted to get involved; personal stories are often the most compelling.

Contact your new group members so you can start to form relationships and gain help getting your group off the ground. Ask them to write blogs too.

There is a series of written how-to guides and short video tutorials to help with almost every aspect of Greenwire. But if you need further help, please do contact our volunteer coaches or a staff member.

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3. Organise your first meeting

Contact your group members on Greenwire and any friends or family you can persuade to come, and suggest a date for your first meeting.

Top tips:

  • Find a good venue. Think town centre, good transport links, accessible, not down a dark alley, not in someone’s house. Many Greenpeace groups meet in a quiet pub but a cafe might be more inclusive. If there is a good alternative venue e.g. a community centre or environment centre, that could be a good option too.
  • Create an event on Greenwire and email the details and the link to everyone in your local area.
  • Publicise the meeting everywhere you can think of, online and in the real world. Ask to put a poster up in the venue where your meeting will be held.
  • Remember to tell the cafe/pub/venue staff where you are sitting so if people ask them where the Greenpeace meeting is, they will know. If possible put a sign up (on the door, on your table, on the back of a chair) that says “Greenpeace”.

At the meeting:

  • Introduce yourself and encourage everyone else to do the same, and to say why they’re interested in Greenpeace. Ice-breakers can help make this fun and relaxed. E.g. What’s your favourite sea creature? Who is your favourite green personality? Who inspires you and why?
  • Ask people what sort of things they want to do, and brainstorm some ideas for your first event [link].
  • Find a date that most people can make and pick that for your first event (within the next 2-3 weeks is ideal). Ask people to commit to helping out on the day. Write down who said they would come (names, emails and phone numbers).
  • If anyone there isn’t already a member of your Greenwire group, encourage them to join, ideally during the meeting (if you have a tablet or laptop and internet connection) or as soon as possible afterwards.
  • Most Greenpeace groups meet once a month to plan campaign and outreach activities. Find a day/time that works for most people (e.g. the second Tuesday of each month) and get people to put that in their diaries.
  • Take notes.
  • Keep the meeting light hearted, fun, and short with enough socialising time for people to get to know each other after the ‘planning’ is over.

After the meeting:

  • Create events in your Greenwire group for anything you have coming up (i.e. your first event and your next monthly meeting).
  • Email everyone on your Greenwire group summarising what’s going to happen next (i.e. upcoming events)  and what people have committed to doing – think action points not minutes.
  • If anyone was at the meeting who isn’t on Greenwire yet, email them the details above too but also remind them to join the Greenwire group.
  • Remind people they can add blogs, photos, videos and events onto Greenwire too - a lively online group will attract people to get involved offline.
  • First meetings are often poorly attended. If that’s the case, don’t be put off. As long as you have one friend to join you, you can still organise small events. Keep arranging meetings too. As long as you keep contacting people on Greenwire and advertising your events and meetings, people will eventually come. However with a bit of luck 3-4 people will turn up and you can start thinking about organising more events.
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4. Organise your first event 

Your first event should ideally be a fundraising or public outreach event, as you won’t yet have access to campaign materials and briefings. You can think about organising a campaign event once your group is a bit more established and you’ve had an induction with a Greenpeace staff member.

Fundraising events: Organising a fundraising event allows you a large amount of creative freedom and will hopefully make a modest amount of money for the central organisation.

Good ideas include cake/book/jumble sales, a pub quiz, a tea stall at a local fair, or a sponsored event / stunt where you can often get coverage in the local paper. Facepainting always goes down a storm with children at fairs and fetes.

There are comprehensive guidelines here, so do have a look through and please register the details of your fundraising event.

Public Outreach events: Alternatively, you can organise a more structured public outreach event, such as screening a film like Black Ice, A Time Comes or The Age of Stupid, or organising a Greenspeakers presentation. But be aware that these require a bit more planning and lead time. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could put on a benefit gig with musicians/bands or comedians. 

Key things to consider:

  1. You’ll need to find a suitable venue with projection equipment

  2. You’ll need an audience which means lots of publicity

No matter what type of event you opt for, the following advice applies:

  • Create event posts on Greenwire and Facebook, and tweet about your event

  • Email everyone in/near your local area on Greenwire, including any nearby Greenpeace group or other local organisations, such as 38 Degrees or Friends of the Earth

  • Invite your friends and family

  • Put posters up in the venue, the library, local shops, community centres and other friendly venues. (We have a stock of posters which you can write your event details on - contact getactive.uk@greenpeace.org to request some or download here)

  • Handout flyers

At the event: Tell everyone you’ve just started a new Greenpeace group, and ask them for their contact details (name, email and phone no). If possible have a laptop or tablet at the event and get people to join your Greenwire group on the spot. Otherwise email them afterwards and ask them to get involved.

Take photos, make a short video if that’s your thing and write a blog about your event to post up in your Greenwire group. Encourage others to do so too.

After the event: Email everyone who came, thank them, tell them how much money was raised (if it was a fundraiser), tell them when your next meeting will be and remind them to join your Greenwire group.

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5. Apply to become an official Greenpeace group

Hopefully by now you’ve organised one or two meetings and at least one local event. So if you’re keen to continue doing things like that and are itching to do some campaigning, now is the time to make it ‘official’.

To form an authorised Greenpeace group, ideally you should have a minimum of four people willing to submit their details as active supporters, who are committed to making it work. You also need to identify at least one person as the coordinator of the group, although this role can be shared between two or more people. One of these coordinators, or another active supporter, will also need to commit to managing the Greenwire group to develop your online presence.

To register your new group

Once you have done that, someone from the Outreach Team at Greenpeace UK will be in touch to arrange an induction interview over Skype or Google Hangouts. Please note, it’s possible that during the interview we may feel you are not yet ready to be an official Greenpeace group, so we may recommend you organise more events, find more members or attend trainings.

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6. Now you’re “authorised” - what next? 

Support

Once you are an official local group, Greenpeace will support you in a number of other ways, including:

  • Access to the Network Coordination group on Greenwire, which is where we upload briefings, documents and other useful information.

  • Email updates from the Outreach Team to coordinators.

  • Monthly newsletter with guidance on what we’d like you to focus on,

  • Greenpeace branded resources, including a banners, tabards, t-shirts, tablecloths etc

  • Support, tips and advice from other coordinators and experienced volunteers through the group coordination and Key Activist Greenwire groups

  • Trainings, inductions and occasionally other events, such as skillshares

  • Support from a staff Network Developer (please bear in mind that the Outreach Team is small, with only two Network Developers overseeing 60-65 local groups/networks, so they may not always be available at short notice)

Campaign projects

If you want to take part in campaign projects, we will send you packs of campaign materials, emailing you when they become available so you can opt-in to receive them.

Greenpeace campaigns are devised centrally and are often very specific so that we can focus the efforts of the active supporter group on a particular target. This also gives us greater impact as it allows us to have thousands of people across the world campaigning on the same issue at the same time, focussed on the same target. This collective effort can produce amazing successes.

But don’t forget you can also organise fundraising and public outreach events, with which you have more freedom.

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If you'd like to see what active supporter groups across the UK are up to, then please browse all the groups on Greenwire. Or if you're more interested in getting active as an individual then why not organise a community fundraising event for us, become trained as a volunteer political lobbyist, or campaign online.