I’ve begun several successful groups, and they all have a lifespan. Longevity has to do with partly with stages of life, and partly just shifting from “group” mode to “friendship” mode without needing to formally name it.
Before you start recruiting members, consider your goals. How wide a net do you need? Are you looking for two families to play all the board games you love or a wild crew to clamber up mountain trails?
It’s a good idea to set up in your mind an idea of how many people you want total. Either a number of families or a quantity is good. You want enough people that it’s likely someone will want to play wolves with your daughter while someone else may still climb trees with your son. Or you may want to incorporate only four families, knowing that your family likes smaller groups with less noise.
If you’re starting a group to fill one child’s cup, say it outright: “I am looking for 10-year-old girls for my daughter.” So often we are aiming for singular goal and the responders aren’t who we imagined. The more specific you are about this type of group, the higher the chance your new membership will satisfy the goal.
Groups I’ve run with membership numbers:
Saturday Potlucks: 6 couples, monthly, always at my house
Knitting group: 5-6 knitters, rotating coffee shops
Nature Play: weekly, 8-10 families, same location
Applewood Moms: twice weekly, 150 paid member families, local playgrounds
New Family Hiking Group: 15 families, weekly, 2 mile hikes within 30 miles
Low-Key Moms Book Club: monthly, rotating host homes in 10m area, 9 families
Crafternoon: rotate host homes in 5-mile area, 12 members
Homeschool Mamas Coffee + Tea: monthly, rotating coffee shops, 4-10 mamas
Wildling Collective: buy-in to rent space, homeschool families, 7 per group x 2
Decide where you’ll roam next. Are you wanting to stay outdoors on trails? Or hide in the library meeting room with games? Will the spaces rotate on a regular basis?
You’ll want to notify prospective members about how much your location will fluctuate. This ensures you’re getting people who can and are able to travel as far as you’re wanting and are interested in the change of scenery (or lack of it) that your group will provide. A weekly backyard meetup that swaps between members will only be possible if your members are willing to travel to one another’s homes, for example. Our Nature Play group met in the same exact spot weekly for two years, providing the consistency of place over seasons that was enjoyable for all – we then included members on a hunt for a new space because we were all ready.
Many homeschool groups do free spaces only, so that means library meeting rooms most of winter and parks for good weather. This requires members to live within traveling distance of the same spaces or to create parameters for how far they’re comfortable traveling. You won’t know this yet, exactly, but you can plan for it and craft it into your group pitch.
How to Ask?
Here’s the tough part: the pitch. I like to write it out and leave the text awhile, then come back to it for editing. It takes me a while to write something I like that doesn’t sound overly needy, but also not like a TV ad for the general population. Here are two samples of introductions I’ve written over the years:
Is today a crafternoon? Join our monthly group, hosted by Christine and Sara! Our goal is to maintain a group of 6-8 artisans to meet regularly for focused making time, fueled by decent snacks + adult beverages. Got an idea for a craft that can be accomplished in three hours or less? Events can be created, hosted and seen only by the members of this group.
Above was for an ongoing FB group Sara + I began four years ago – it’s still alive + well. For the next one, I was looking to share a specific, rented space.
Wishing for a consistent, supportive homeschool community? We’re forming a collective of 8 families. We’ll meet weekly, form friendships, play freely, indoors and out. We’ll build a strong, connected group, designed to meet needs with elasticity – wiggle room for messiness, change, and personal growth. Join us! No cost, no pressure. Try out the families and the space. See how it feels.
It’s likely you already know someone you’d like to ask, and that’s probably the most awkward part. I try to bring it up in conversation and gauge their level of interest. But if your person says yes, then you have help! Planning a group and talking to new people is easier with two.
If you’re alone in this endeavor, then gear up all your bravery and craft that pitch!
I’ll cover where to ask in the follow-up article, next week. Get writing!