Well-being and motivation

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Running a community project is exhilarating, but also involves a lot of hard work. Supporting your core group and volunteers and preventing burnout is essential to maintain momentum and peoples’ motivation.

Some ideas for promoting the well-being and motivation of your core group and volunteers include:

Training and guidance. Providing training and guidance for your core group and volunteers to ensure they fully understand their role and how they contribute towards achieving the aims of the project is important. It is difficult to feel motivated when you aren’t sure what you are supposed to be doing, and providing clarity on this can make all the difference, enabling people to take ownership of their role. Helping people settle into new roles through basic familiarisation is also a good idea.

Feedback and support. Core group members and volunteers will feel more valued and motivated if their efforts get noticed, so pay attention and express your appreciation, even for the little things – it only takes a second to say thank you! This can also help to identify areas for improvement or where someone would benefit from more support.

Tap into motivations. Find out why volunteers are giving up their free time to help with the project. By tapping into these motivations and meeting the needs identified, it can improve their experience and encourage other people to become involved.

Managing expectations and agreeing objectives. Having agreed aims and objectives for the group can help to manage expectations and creates a common goal for the group to work towards. This is best carried out at an early stage (the earlier any differences are ironed out the better!) and can be achieved through discussions during a meeting or workshop, with the outcomes being summarised into an informal document, or more formally through drawing up an official document, such as a constitution.

Social activities. Social activities provide an important balance with project planning meetings and the practical day-to-day running of your project. Social activities can either be incorporated into ongoing activities, such as group meetings, or organised as separate standalone events.

Celebrating achievements. Celebrating achievements, no matter how small, is key for maintaining motivation within the group.

Opportunities for new people. Opportunities for new people to become involved can enable a steady stream of new ideas, insights from fresh eyes and participation from a wider range of people in the community. This could be achieved through specific agreed rules such as one third of the management group must retire every year or nobody can stay on the management group for more than three years.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Transition Town Lewes have agreed principles and aims which guide the way they work. On their website their core purpose is stated as “to mobilise and facilitate community action in order to respond effectively and positively to climate change and peak oil”. Their work towards this core purpose is guided by a range of principles which include working together, having a non-hierarchical structure, trusting one another, welcoming diversity and pursuing things they enjoy (amongst others).

Country: UK

Transition Town Totnes offers mentoring and support to promote the individual resilience of those working on its projects. It offers Time to Breathe, a weekly stress-relieving meditation group, and free support to all those involved through its Mentoring Project and Complementary Therapies. Feedback from those who have used the scheme suggests that Transition Mentoring is hugely appreciated, both as a personal support and in enabling participants to be even more effective in their work on their projects. All Transition coaches are trained and experiences professionals and choose to contribute their time and skills to TTT free of charge. Transition Town Totnes also has a Transition Support Group which meets regularly to provide mutual support, using a Co-Counselling format, looking at both the challenges we encounter in our work, and the deeper challenges of how to not let our fears and despair over climate change and environmental damage get in the way of us being active in the world.

Country: UK

Southend in Transition start their weekly meetings with everyone feeding back on how their weeks have been. This helps the group to provide mutual support and to gain an understanding of the pressures each member is currently under, enabling sympathetic distribution of responsibilities. The group also always ensures there is a social element to every core group meeting through organising a bring and share meal, and holds monthly Transition Drinks in a local pub for anyone interested to attend.