Roles and responsibilities

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Creating group roles and volunteering opportunities for people with different interests and who can offer different skills and levels of commitment can allow you to engage a wider cross section of the community. While roles within the core group are likely to require a regular commitment, volunteers can support the work of the core group on a one-off, ad-hoc or regular basis, either focusing on a particular role or aspect of the project or mucking in where help is needed. You could even develop apprenticeship or internship placements.

Types of roles and responsibilities to consider include:

Events. Organising and running events, involving coming up with ideas for events, arranging venues, times, invitations and logistics for the day, and feeding into marketing and promotional material.

Marketing and communications. Writing, designing and updating content relating to online, paper, face-to-face and media communication channels. Someone with web design skills, graphic design skills or other skills relating to marketing and PR would be well-suited to such a role.

Secretary and administrator. Handling email, telephone and postal correspondence, as well as writing and distributing agendas and minute-taking at meetings.

Finance. Grant applications, fundraising activities, developing a financial model and managing accounts, share offers, sales and membership fees.

Delivery and outreach. Community engagement, recruiting people to participate in projects and delivering services for people in the community as part of your group’s projects.

Member recruitment. Developing and delivering a strategy or approach for recruiting new members, as well as managing existing membership lists.

Volunteer co-ordinator. Recruiting new volunteers, developing new volunteer roles, producing role profiles and person specifications for different volunteering opportunities, communicating with volunteers and arranging and managing volunteers.

Development and project manager. Oversight for the project and involve responsibility for technical aspects, such as site negotiations, feasibility studies, planning applications and installation.

Executive and non-executive members.  Executive directors usually sit on the board of directors and have a specific position, holding responsibility for the day-to-day running of the project in that area. Non-executive directors also sit on the board of directors and take part in decision making at board meetings, but do not play any part in operations or the running of the project. Non-executive directors perform an advisory role and are usually appointed due to their experience and areas of expertise. Having access to the advice of non-executive directors can bring a range of benefits: ensuring good governance and holding the executive to account; the constructive assessment and objective insight that comes with having distance from the project and detachment from operational issues; transferring and applying of lessons learned from their own experience and expertise; access to new networks and useful contacts.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Ashton Hayes has a band of 30-50 dedicated volunteers who regularly help with different aspects of their project. They try to harness the variety of skills available in their community and encourage everyone to participate by offering a wide range of opportunities to become involved, tailored to different people’s strengths and the needs of the project. They recognise that some people enjoy the technical aspects of carbon footprint calculations, while others have specialist knowledge and expertise relating to renewable energy. Others are more creative, and contribute by providing writing, photographic and film making skills which help to keep all residents informed of the group’s activities and share their journey with the outside world.

Country: UK

Bath and West Community Energy is keen to ensure that their board of directors is as diverse as possible to be able to draw on a broad cross section of skills and experience. Their Executive Directors include a Chair, Managing Director and Finance Director, and their Executive Team comprises an Associate Director of Communications, Community and Press, an Associate Director of Development and a Project Developer. Their Non-Executive Directors play an important role in holding the executive to account and representing members’ interests. When recruiting for Non-Executive Directors, they look for individuals with experience of running a business, financial and legal skills, links with the community or life experience that can help assess risks and make rational decisions.

Country: Ireland

The Energy Smart Community was a not-for-profit scheme run by Dublin’s energy agency Codema in partnership with Iona and District Resident's Association. The scheme allowed homeowners to join together with their local community to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, while availing of energy saving grants from the government. It operated on the simple principle that by bringing homeowners together as a ‘cluster’, they could save on their overall energy bills, while taking advantage of the environmental and social benefits for the community involved. The roles of the different partners in the project were very defined. While the Resident’s Association assisted with the development of local contacts, Codema looked after all the PR and marketing in relation to the project. The Resident’s Association then helped with the distribution of the marketing material to help involve the community and get residents to attend local information evenings. This was done through press releases, local newspaper/website articles, posters and leaflets which were developed by Codema’s Communications Manager. Both Codema and the Resident’s Association devised a ‘door-knock’ strategy to call to approx. 1,000 homes in the area to advertise the scheme. Codema’s Energy Engineer provided all the energy advice at information evenings and Codema’s Finance Officer looked after tendering and procurement. Codema also worked with an outside consultant who was responsible for project administration and giving the main presentation at local meetings.