We got enough volunteers for three new Rainbow units
By looking closely at the Division’s data, Helen Beecher Bryant, Growing Guiding Co-ordinator for Chislehurst Division, was able to create new units and welcome lots more girls into Rainbows!
We massively strengthened our offer to girls in our Division through careful planning that addressed a particular problem – our lack of places for Rainbows.
We learned a lot in the process and I’ve included it all here – so girls in your area can benefit too.
1. Plan and target your campaign
Don’t be scared by data – use it! It was from our Join Us data that we knew we had really long waiting-to-join lists for Rainbows throughout the Division, so our campaign focused on recruiting the volunteers we needed to open more Rainbow units.
Use our growth plan resource to help you plan what your area needs.
2. A multi-pronged approach is most effective
We did lots of canvassing – from handing out flyers and displaying posters, to writing articles for community newsletters. We contacted local faith groups and schools, attending events like summer fayres, music festivals and farmers’ markets.
Our online approach was just as important. We did everything from locally-targeted Facebook ads and a community Facebook page to creating a new Twitter account and starting a blog. One qualified Leader who’d moved away for university saw our Facebook page and got in touch to say that she was back in the area and would love to open a unit.
3. Don’t forget that volunteering – and unit meetings! – can take many forms
For us, the involvement of a number of new occasional and one-off helpers meant that some of our current Brownie Leaders could step up and open Rainbow units too. We were really impressed by how many people wanted to get involved.
Our 9th Petts Wood Rainbows is also a great example of innovative guiding. It’s the biggest Rainbow unit in the country, with 46 girls on the register. It sounds like a lot but we start together, break into groups each led by one of our large team of helpers (Leaders, Unit Helpers, parent helpers, Young Leaders, Rainbow Helpers), then join together to reflect at the end.
We also have parents who do the accounts, go shopping for us, and assist with general admin. The unit even has its very own Social Media Manager!
4. Encourage parents to volunteer by showing them what they – and their girls – are missing out on
By giving girls and parents a taste of guiding, we could engage them in the volunteering opportunities available.
We organised two coffee mornings, for parents with girls on the Rainbows waiting-to-join list. We had refreshments, games, crafts and chatter, as well as Girlguiding promotional resources of course!
But we made sure we backed this up with the admin legwork. We found days and locations for potential new unit meetings, and then asked parents (via letter and email) which their girls could potentially join – while making it clear that we needed more volunteers to create these opportunities.
Using an online form made it easy for parents to tell us which units would suit their daughters, and to explain the different ways parents could help us by volunteering.
5. Nurture your new recruits to help them grow within guiding
When someone was keen on volunteering with us, they registered online and had all the usual Girlguiding recruitment checks. Anyone who could help more than once a month got a members’ t-shirt for meetings, giving them an immediate sense of identity and belonging.
Once the new volunteers were settled, I sent them personalised letters to thank them, as well as to ask them if they’d consider working on their Leadership Qualification (LQ). The letter showed how the volunteering they’d already done could count towards the LQ, and included the syllabus so they could see what they’d learn.
6. Don’t do it alone!
By having a supportive team you can cover more ground, stay positive and share in the success of your campaign.
We spread the load by having a committee of people who took responsibility for various aspects of our growth initiative locally.
All of our volunteers became advocates for our campaign. All of our volunteers were encouraged to travel on buses in uniform locally and to tweet using #BusFriends, as well as tweeting if they saw any of our posters or flyers.
Above all, stay positive. Work hard and grab every opportunity to promote volunteering opportunities locally. Embrace your community and let them know about Girlguiding so that they can see that volunteering with us enables girls and young women to discover their potential and bring about change!
Start where Helen did – with data. We have a number of resources that will make those numbers seem a lot less scary and more useful.