A support group consists of individuals who come together to discuss, explore, promote, and / or lobby for a certain cause. Homelessness, disabilities, environmental problems, and child abuse are just a few examples of problems that motivate people seeking a solution to form a support group. Such groups can be started by one or two people or by entire organizations. Here you will see the steps to start a support group.
Step 1. Identify your cause and motive for creating the group
A support group or self-help group for people with disabilities can meet to give support to its members and to increase social awareness of relevant issues. A group dedicated to helping the homeless can come together to think of ways to generate resources and assistance. Be specific about the cause and your goal.
Step 2. Do your research to determine if a similar organization already exists
An online search for the presence of a cause-specific advocacy group in your geographic location will help you locate the names, contact information, and scope of existing organizations.
Contact local organizations to learn more. Talk to administrators of existing support groups to find out if they already do the work you intend to do. You may decide to join their efforts or fulfill a need that their activities don't meet
Step 3. Find organizing partners
Talk to your social network, professional colleagues, leaders in your community, and others who are interested in helping you organize activities for the support group.
Step 4. Contact interested groups, individuals, or organizations to find group attendees
If you are interested in improving the nutrition of school lunches, for example, get in touch with other parents who wish the same for their children.
Step 5. Choose the location for the meetings
Contact centers, libraries, churches, and other organizations in your community that may offer a free meeting place. Eliminate all obstacles to meeting attendance by choosing a central, easily accessible location with ample parking.
Step 6. Choose a convenient meeting time
Take into account the agendas of the attendees. If your target is mothers of young children, for example, you can schedule your meetings when their children are in school.
Step 7. Prepare informational materials to distribute at your meetings
Provide support group members with a written description of your group's vision and goal, along with photocopies to increase their awareness of relevant issues.
Use technology to contact members and to distribute information. Create a website for your support group and send monthly email newsletters to members
Step 8. Increase group membership by attending conferences and other events
Speak at events sponsored by like-minded organizations to generate interest in your group. Announce the date and location of your meeting at those events.
Step 9. Explore financing options to cover upfront costs
- Talk to political officials in your jurisdiction. Ask about legislation or funds available to increase funding for your specific cause.
- Research private financing options. Contact private funding agencies for funding or fundraising ideas.
Step 10. Organize a one-day event
Expand your reach socially and politically by sponsoring a one-day conference.
- Ask support group supporters to spread the word about the event. Create flyers for group members to distribute around town and email to interested people.
- Invite speakers and legislators to participate. Informative and inspiring talks given by speakers who are intimately familiar with your cause will motivate others and increase awareness. Also, contact your local politicians and legislators office to invite their representatives to your event.