Global Voices Meetups are gatherings designed to help facilitate meaningful connections with our readers, potential authors or translators, and others that have shown an active interest in our work (i.e. Rising Voices micro-grant applicants). While much of our GV work takes place in cyberspace, it is nice to step away from the monitor and meet with our extended community face-to-face.
This guide was compiled following the experiences from six GV Meetups in six cities around the world, which were a part of the GV Innovation grants in 2014.
These meetups are not possible without the initiative and commitment of members of our community that volunteer to lead and organize these gatherings with support from Rising Voices staff.
We hope that this guide will help you understand the different steps to organize a Meetup in your locality. If you are interested in organizing a Meetup, please send an email to: rising [at] globalvoices [dot] org
- 1 Organizing Team
- 2 Recruitment of Participants
- 3 Budget & Sponsorship
- 4 Program
- 5 Follow-up
- 6 History
Any GVer may express an interest in organizing a Meetup in their local community. Our preference is that the GVer be active as an author or translator as that activity will give him or her firsthand knowledge about how our community operates.
Ideally there would be at least two GVers that organize the Meetup helping to divide the various tasks in this volunteer effort.
There may also be many more GVers that you may not know who live in your area. A simple email to the GV Community list can help raise your idea of organizing a Meetup or ask you Regional Editor to put you in touch with other past or present GVers from your part of the world. Even if a GVer may be from your country, but not from your city, they can still help with promotion.
Recruitment of Participants
We suggest keeping the number of participants small and manageable so that conversation can take place among the attendees, anywhere between 15-25 has been considered ideal. This also helps plan for the size of the venue and any refreshments that may need to be purchased.
GV Meetups should be free, without cost, but can require prior registration.
Ways to recruit:
- GV Blog Post – This short article can announce the details of the Meetup and translated into the local language. The blog post may also include a link to a sign-up form, which can easily be created using Google Doc Forms. Usually there is a link where interested participants can sign-up and send their contact details. Here you might also ask them to write a few sentences asking about their motivation to attend, as well as information about their projects. You can also ask for optional information such as Twitter handle, Facebook profile, blog, or other links to their projects. This data can also help better understand their background and some of the things in which they may be interested. To see examples of previous announcements from Porto, Skopje, Phnom Penh, Cairo, Kampala, Lagos and Beirut.
- Social Media – Tweeting or creating a Facebook Event can also help get the word out about the gathering by linking to the GV post or to a Google Doc registration form. Since the Meetup should have a limited number of spots, you should specify that the event is open to those that have registered and not put all of the exact details of the meetup in order to have an idea of the number of attendees. It may also be a private Facebook event for those that have been confirmed.
- An Email from Rising Voices – RV has an extensive database of previous applicants to our microgrants from the past three years, which can be organized by city and/or country. Chances are there are former applicants from the location where a future Meetup will take place, and also means that they already have an initial contact and interest in GV's work. However, we have indicated that we do not share their contact information outside of RV. We can, however, send them an email introducing them to the Meetup organizers and sharing information where they can find out more information or sign-up.
- Flyers – Placing flyers in strategic places such as universities, internet cafés, and other high-traffic areas where potential participants might see the info could also be another way to reach out.
Before the event, it is recommended that you send a reminder email or better yet, a follow-up phone call letting the participant know that you look forward to their attendance. This personal contact goes a long way and can help ensure that those who have signed up will attend.
You might also want to reach out to journalists, who can attend helping to understand what GV is all about. This may lead to the exploration of republication partnerships, as well as to provide coverage/promotion for future GV Meetups.
Budget & Sponsorship
GV gatherings can take place with few or no funds with the help of local friends, partners or in-kind donations (to provide refreshments, a free meeting place or lending of A/V equipment). For the six pilot project meetups, we had a small budget to share with organizers. If you have an idea for a meetup you can ask GV for support, but usually we may not have funds available.
Most likely there are local partners willing to provide free meeting space for the Meetup. It never hurts to ask. These can be a local tech hub, a coffee shop, or even a local library. We can help provide a request letter from GV to make things a little more “official.” If you are having trouble finding a local partner, please let us know and we can provide some suggestions. However, we imagine that local GVers are very well connected with the local scene.
An ideal venue might be one with a good wi-fi connection so that participants can live tweet the event.
If you cannot secure sponsorship to provide refreshments, you may ask attendees to bring a snack or drink to share with others as a pot-luck style.
GV Merchandise + Resources
We can possibly provide GV stickers to distribute to the Meetup attendees. However, it is important to plan this in advance since sending stickers by mail may take some time. Sara from Portugal also added:
We made available a printed copy of GV's annual report and the ebook Europe in Crisis, as well as stickers and other materials that people could read in a table near the “center” of the meetup. we also invited the participants to bring their own work and place it there for other to see it (for instance, Tactical Tech's materials related with the Exposing the Invisible project that we screened the night before, and copies of Jornal Mapa, a critical newspaper that we had invited but unfortunately couldn't attend).
For the most part, we have seen that a half-day event works best. Many people are busy and full day of commitment can be difficult to get. The weekends are also a busy time with a lot of competing events, but with enough planning you can attract a lot of interest in the activity.
It's up to each organizing team to determine the agenda based on the needs of the participants. That is why having an idea of how many people and who will be attending is good.
- Give enough time for people to introduce themselves and talk about their interests or projects.
- Checkout this GV Face about the experience of GVers organizing GV Meetups:
Introducing GV – There will be some attendees that are familiar with our work, but not clear on the details of GV.
Special Guests – While these meetups are designed to strengthen local ties, inviting a virtual guest speaker to send greetings or talk about his or her work can also showcase our global nature. Note: technical and internet connectivity should be taken into consideration.
Document – Please make sure to document the meetup with pictures, participant video interviews, and on social media using the hashtag #GVMeetup. Please ask if there any attendees that object to having their photograph taken and shared on social media.
Sample Agendas -
Click here to see examples of some of the programs from previous GV Meetups.
Follow-up Blog Post from organizers or attendees
You may want to ask attendees if they could write about their experiences in their blog or on a note on their Facebook profile. The post might also be good material to link to as a Quick Read or republish in its entirety. In Pakistan, this post called “Finding Family in an Unexpected Place” was published as a Bridge piece.
At the end of the Meetup, you can send around another form asking them if they would like to be subscribed to our mailing lists:
- Global Voices Digest – stories from around the world. Subscribe here
- Rising Voices – newsletter with citizen media resources, funding opportunities, contests, fellowships, etc. Subscribe here
- Advocacy – Netizen Report by email. Subscribe here
Others have chosen to create a Facebook group where members can join and keep in touch or through a mailing list (Google Group).
It's important to let Meetup attendees know how they can get involved with GV, such as through being a volunteer author or translator. This could also be in the form of an interest form, where you can follow-up with them putting them in touch with the right person. You can contact them via their Author Page. See here for a list of current Editors.
Keep the Conversation Going
You may meet interesting people doing interesting things from your local community. Add them to your social networking sites, and keep in touch. Who knows what interesting collaborations can take place after the Meetup. It's up to you to think of the possibilities. At the GVMeetup in Porto, the idea for a Portuguese-language podcast came to life.
List of past and upcoming GV Meetups