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The start of a project, founding of a group or achievement of a key milestone can provide a great opportunity to raise awareness of your project and recruit supporters, or simply an excuse to have a party! Taking the time to promote your project, celebrate successes and show your appreciation for all the hard work is a healthy exercise and one that should be carried out often, for the benefit of both the project and those putting in the time to make it happen.

Click on the ideas below for practical suggestions and detailed case studies.

Launching a project

A launch event is a one-off opportunity to have an impact – really think about the impression you want to make and the key messages you want people to take away with them. You may want to run a launch event to raise awareness when a new group is formed, to start connecting the community with a planned project, or to unveil a project which is ready for delivery.

If you can involve renowned public figures and local leaders, this can raise the profile of your event, attract attention and making it more likely that people will attend. Numbers can also be boosted by welcoming and involving other local community groups, especially if members of those groups then bring along some of their own friends and family too.

Ideas for different types of launch events include:

Launching at a public meeting. Launching at a public meeting can be a good approach in order to allow people to feedback on your plans, to contribute ideas and to offer help or support in taking it forward. This can therefore be a good option for achieving practical outputs and to determine next steps. This kind of event is likely to be most successful when it is a creative exercise with lots of interactive activities which takes place before the precise details of the projects have been decided, as this will allow those attending to have an opportunity to shape the outcome.

Launching at a party or social event. Launching at a party or social event is a good option for building social networks and generating a positive energy around a new group or project. This type of event can be more hands on with aspects appealing to all ages compared with a public meeting. Such an event could involve talks, music, dramatic performances, competitions or practical tasks – there are lots of different options! Including interactive activities and practical tasks will make it more engaging and active.

Unveiling a completed project. If you are unveiling a completed project, it is likely that there will already be a degree of local awareness about your group and what it has been up to. You will also have more information to communicate about your project, its results and impact, as well as people to acknowledge and thank who inputted into the process. Compared with events to launch a new group or project, events to unveil completed projects should therefore be more about celebrating achievements.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Dingwall Wind Co-op's launch event was well planned with an evening event followed by a drop-in the next day. The venue (Dingwall Auction Mart) is well known to local people, and important in the farming community. The Mart also has its own wind turbine so has an existing connection with renewables. Presentations and running order were shared and agreed well before the meeting and promotional printing was all carried out in good time. Directors visited the venue ahead of time. The evening event was a tight, 1hr long launch with short and clear presentations from directors, technology providers and advisors. A good deal of time was set aside for people's questions and opportunity to speak informally was provided before and after the speakers. Share offer documents were available on the night. The drop-in session was held the next morning at the same venue, alongside the normal activities at the Mart. Most of the directors and support staff were on hand to have one-to-one conversations with people considering joinign the Co-op. A number of people who had attended the launch returned to the drop-in, having read the share document - with questions and in some cases cheques.

Country: UK

Stroud Community Agriculture put up big blank posters at their first public meeting with headings asking questions such as “What would you want from a farm project?” and “What can you offer?”. Other posters invited people to get involved in planning the project, and people were given contact forms to fill in so they could be added to the mailing list, enabling them to keep updated on the project’s progress, to contribute further ideas or to donate money. They describe the meeting as “pretty chaotic” and “wide-ranging” but note that plenty of enthusiasm was generated.

Source: The Story of Community Supported Agriculture in Stroud

Country: UK

Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative combined their AGM, an open day and the official unveiling of their wind farm into a single event. The AGM began at 11.15am with over 300 members of the Co-operative attending. The meeting covered the progress of the project to date, including costs, budgets and electricity generated, recent events and future strategic options for developing the Co-operatives activities. Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, then formally opened the ceremony, inviting over 600 guests to raise a glass to celebrate the official unveiling.

Celebrating achievements

It is important not to get too caught up in the ongoing project work and to find time to celebrate when successes are achieved, no matter how small. Celebrations are key for maintaining motivation within your group, to make sure you appreciate and recognise successes and have a chance to reflect on the bigger picture of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Aim to celebrate little and often, to mark events both big and small, including anniversaries, key milestones and targets reached.

What form your celebrations take is up to you – it could be anything from going out for lunch together as a group or sharing a meal one evening, to a big party to which the whole community is invited. For ideas for evaluating your achievements, see the Measuring Success section.

Celebrating key milestones. Key milestones can be anything from big landmark events to little targets reached along the way. You can set whatever you like to be a milestone – it could be your first 100 ‘likes’ on Facebook, your first 10 people signed up to participate in an initiative or the completion of a construction project.

Celebrating anniversaries. Any anniversaries are worth celebrating. Possible ideas include the anniversary of your first meeting, your first event or when your project was officially launched.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Hook Norton Low Carbon co-hosted an event at Hook Norton Primary School to celebrate the installation of 17.4kWp solar PV and 3 solar thermal hot water systems. The group had helped to secure the systems which now produce electricity and provide hot water for the school buildings. To emphasise the sunshine theme, the event involved colourful stalls and performances from a steel band, as well as free smoothies and cakes. The Hook Norton Low Carbon team had their own stall where they provided advice about home improvements and information about their low carbon car club, and had their first car club Polo on display outside the school for people to take a look at. There was a huge turnout of parents and children and the group enjoyed a large influx of new members, including lots of people interested in joining the Hooky Car Club.

Country: UK

Transition St Albans held a celebratory party and public meeting to mark the one year anniversary of the start of their Transition Streets project. The event was designed to give people the opportunity to find out about what the project is, what it had achieved and how they could get involved, whilst enjoying free food and drink and good company. Those who attended could meet first-hand some of the one hundred residents who had taken part to find out about their experiences, what changes they had made in their households and what the results had been. The hope was that people would be inspired to set up their own transition street in their neighbourhood, extending the project to involve new people and different areas.

Country: Ireland

A group of enthusiastic staff members of Dublin City Council and Codema came together to run the “Think Energy” awareness campaign to help all staff in the Council understand what role they can play in reducing the overall energy demand of the building. To celebrate the progress of this campaign, the Think Energy Ambassadors planned a two day event in the Council’s canteen. A date was set for June 2014 to coincide with the EU Sustainable Energy Week to ensure maximum exposure. The Energy Ambassadors developed an event schedule, covering all aspects of sustainability including water, lighting and heating. Energy experts were invited along to provide information on the different areas. Additionally, an energy game on a touch screen was to provide entertainment together with the bicycle challenge which involved staff cycling to generate a watt in exchange for a free coffee. The Think Energy Ambassadors also worked closely with the facility managers of the building, ensuring access to the solar panels on the roof for a hands-on tour as well as a test drive in an electric car. Event participants could also win a waterbutt by guessing the amount of water the container would be able to fit. The waterbutt was sponsored by the Corporate Services department of Dublin City Council. The kid’s of the local crèche were also invited along to colour in the Think Energy logo. The event was video recorded and photos were distributed via local networks.