Creating Effective Programmes and Activities
The best way to learn how your Chapter can put together a great event, launch a public relations campaign, or develop an information product is to tap into the Chapter network to see what other Chapters are doing. Chapters embrace sharing, so never by shy about asking other Chapters for advice on how they managed their achievements. Check the map of active Internet Society Chapters for contact details.
Experienced Chapter leaders know that the key is to start small and simple, focus on a topic, and keep your objectives manageable. If your Chapter is just forming, we encourage you to think less about building an organization and more about developing projects and activities that will advance our joint mission to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world.
Generally speaking, those activities will fall into a handful of categories:
- Events and presentations
- Education and training
- Information and communication products
Remember: As part of your Chapter’s obligations (Draft document) to the Internet Society , you need to conduct at least one mission-related activity every 12 months. With a little planning, and some help from other Chapters and the Internet Society, that goal should be easily manageable. Successful projects, large or small, will more than likely pay dividends in terms of the excitement and enthusiasm they generate from those who are actively involved in making them happen as well as those who benefit from the results.
Don’t forget to explore the financial and other resources made available by the Internet Society to help Chapters get their activities up and running. The Community Grants Programme has become an increasingly popular mechanism for raising funds to create events, campaigns, and other types of projects. However, Internet Society funding should not be the only source of revenue for your Chapter, which should be sustainable in its basic functioning even without this additional funding.
I. Events and presentations
Events and presentations can range from organizing a simple, introductory, ‘About the Internet Society’ presentation to your Chapter’s members and other interested individuals, to participation in a larger regional event, to hosting a regional INET conference. (To find out more about hosting an INET, contact your Regional Bureau manager. If you are building your Chapter, consider participating in already established technology, business, or policy events that are local or regional.
A popular strategy among Chapters is to use established local or regional meetings to get in front of a wider audience. Some real life examples include:
- The Internet Society U.S. Colorado Chapter introudced itself to potential new members by setting up a booth at a regional event. Armed with enthusiasm, pamphlets, pens, stickers, and other giveaways they obtained from the Internet Society, they introduced the Internet Society and their Chapter to an interested audience.
- In November 2010, the Internet Society Spain Chapter participated in the 6th Spanish Network Operators Group (ESNOG) in Madrid, where they gave a brief presentation about the joint goals of the Internet Society and the Chapter to a group of motivated Internet Service Providers, hosting companies, hardware vendors, and others. The participation paid off: as reported by Chapter leader Carlos Fragoso, “some attendees were interested in receiving more detailed information about the Internet Society’s regular activities and were willing to join our successful Internet Society Spanish Chapter bimonthly ‘expert meetings,’ which we broadcast in real time from our eight official Chapter supporting sites”.
Campaigns are a useful and often effective strategy for drawing attention to a cause as well as to your Chapter. By educating yourself on the Internet Society’s mission, strategic objectives, principles, and priorities, you should be able to find many causes that match up with the issues that concern your Chapter’s constituents and others you want to reach, engage, and influence. Some real-life examples include:
- The Internet Society Israel Chapter launched a campaign to protect minors from harmful Internet content and managed to get several Internet service providers, content providers, and other interest groups to participate.
- The Internet Society Tunisia Chapter participated in the Your First Step Campaign, which was initiated by a group of young activists who took part in the CIVICUS Youth Assembly 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Chapter offered Internet resources and hosting for the group as a means for helping support their efforts to demonstrate how to take action on issues that matter most to people.
III. Education and training
Internet Society Chapters are often led and populated by technology experts and individuals who are knowledgeable about Internet policy, technology, education, and cultural issues. Creating opportunities to help train and educate your membership and your community helps to further the Internet Society’s goals and reward the Chapter with new (or renewed) credibility. Here are some real-life examples:
- The Internet Society India Bangalore Chapter conducted an Internet Awareness and Training Session for self help groups. The Chapter managed to create an activity that was not only educational, but was also rooted in raising awareness (along the lines of a campaign). As the Chapter described, the event was designed to create awareness of computers and the Internet among the leaders of the self-help groups supporting artisans in and around Bangalore.
- The Internet Society Serbia Belgrade Chapter offers an example of how an activity can be both effective and fun. They helped organize an ICT quiz with the students of the Anglo-American School in Belgrade after having contacted the school to ask about involving students and teachers in learning more about the Internet and its future. The students said they not only enjoyed taking part in the quiz, they look forward to similar activities. The school indicated that they looked forward to establishing further cooperation with the Internet Society Serbia Belgrade Chapter.
IV. Information and communication products
Information and communication productions – such as brochures, booklets, or pamphlets – help establish a Chapter within a desired community and create mechanisms for lasting recognition. When done right, these tools help brand both the Internet Society and Chapters in the minds of those who are unfamiliar with the organization, and they help establish Chapters as experts and reliable and trusted sources. Some real-life examples:
- The Internet Society Australia Chapter, which, over the years, has cultivated a reputation in Australia as a credible and trusted resource for expertise, knowledge, and authority, finalized a ‘broadband handbook’ for the Australian telecommunications consumer peak body ACCAN. The booklet explains what the National Broadband Network will be and what it will provide and it speaks to many of the issues the NBN is likely to raise.
- The Internet Society Argentina Chapter combined training with an information product when it created (with the help of the Internet Society's Community Grants Programme) a handbook to be used as a training tool by IT professionals and service provider staff that have not yet experienced IPv6. The handbook helps teach them to configure IPv6 in different environments through detailed instructions and experiments.
- The Internet Society Italy Chapter created an Italian-language booklet to help raise awareness in the local community of the legal issues around Internet governance.
Build on small success
Again, don’t forget to start small and work your way up to larger projects and activities. A simple pamphlet could lead to a small meeting, which could lead to a larger meeting. Similarly, a small meeting could inspire a Chapter to create a pamphlet that outlines pertinent issues, which could then attract sponsorships to help your Chapter take on slightly larger or more diverse projects.
It is more important to stay flexible and responsive to the issues and challenges relevant to your community than to become a large organization concerned with internal management. Small events and small projects can help energize your Chapter’s members; and small successes will keep everyone interested and involved. Plan ahead.
Whatever activity you have in mind, your ultimate success depends on good planning (“You get what you plan for!”). The plan should include a number of key elements including:
- The Goal – Broadly, the goal should answer three questions: What will happen? Who will benefit? Why is it important? More specifically, the goal should define the desired outcome in meaningful, measureable, specific, achievable, and time-constrained metrics. These metrics will, in turn, drive the resource requirements and production timeline.
Resource Requirements – Develop a list of all the resources needed to complete the project. These should include:
- Human resources: volunteers with relevant content knowledge (who knows what?), skills and expertise (who knows how?), and relationships (who knows whom?)
- Financial resources: Sources and uses of funds (see also our section on Financial Management)
- Project collateral: Such as facilities, documents, registration, catering, audiovisual, and other applicable considerations
- Marketing and communications collateral and channels
- Production Schedule – Working backwards from “done”, list all the important benchmarks that will help you and your team ensure that the project is on track and on time. This timeline should clearly identify who will do what, when, and how, as well as the resources in play at the time.
- Marketing Communications Schedule – It’s great to do good work, but the value of that work is often proportional to the degree others are aware of it. Plan ahead who you will tell what, when, and how. Putting the right words in the right ears at the right time can boost the overall value and impact of your effort exponentially!
- Celebration – Be sure to celebrate (and publicize) your success and loudly thank all who helped.
- Debrief – While it’s still fresh in your mind, set up a face-to-face or virtual meeting with all the key players in the project to review the results and identify what could be improved the next time around.
Click here for a more detailed planning guide.
Click here for more programme and activity ideas.