Meta Organizer Cookbook

lilliealbert edited this page Nov 2, 2014 · 2 revisions

What's a meta-organizer?

A meta-organizer finds workshop organizers and venues so that lots of workshops can happen in a given locale. Since we have 1-2 workshops a month in San Francisco, we spread out who's doing the heavy lifting of running each workshop.

How we meta-organize in San Francisco

In SF, we have a spreadsheet that lists out our prospective organizers / venues, the status of each upcoming workshop, and which of us was responsible for making sure that worskhop took place. This helps us keep track of who's doing what, where, when.


  • At least once per quarter, get together to brainstorm and send emails.
  • Comb through the past volunteer and organizer lists to see who might be willing to organize again or for the first time.
  • Look through our list of companies who have previously offered to host or that we have contacts at and decide who to ask.
  • Send out a bunch of emails to potential organizers and venues.
  • Follow up with those who have questions or are up for it.
  • Connect volunteers and venues to pick a date for their workshop.

Strategies for Recruiting Organizers

The path often looks something like: student --> TA --> teacher --> organizer, but that's very rough and often steps are skipped. Lots of teachers don't start off as students, for instance, and sometime students are ready to jump right into organizing!

Places to look for organizers

  • Look at your recent volunteers list, and see if you have repeat volunteers. These folks might be up for stepping into the organizer role for a workshop.
  • At the beginning of the workshop, announce that there will be a table at lunch of people talking about organizing a workshop if anyone is interested in that.
  • Ask! And when you ask, ask for nominations as well. They might know someone perfect.

Information & Skills Needed

These are the things you need to know and be able to do to be an effective meta-organizer.

Growing the Potential Workshop Organizers List

Information needed:

  • A list of past organizers, friends, volunteers, and anyone you can think to ask to organize
  • Other humans' suggestions for who to ask

Skills needed:

  • Ability to ask for help convincingly
  • Participation at events where you can recruit people to the list of potential organizers is hugely helpful

Recruiting Venues + Sponsors

Information needed:

  • A list of local tech companies; often but not necessarily RoR shops
  • Space / tech requirements for a workshop
  • Benefits to hosting a workshops

Skills needed:

  • Research skills to find new venues
  • Ability to email people you don't know
  • Remembering to follow up
  • Following up
  • Keeping track of who you've asked, so you can follow up

Actually recruiting workshop organizers

Information needed:

  • A brief pitch of what organizing is and why they should do it
  • Prior experience organizing goes a long way in explaining what it entails

Skills needed:

  • Ability to email people you don't know
  • Email writing and follow up, remembering to follow up, following up, etc.
  • Ability to keep track of who's been asked, when, and what they said (spreadsheet!)

Matching venues with organizers

Information needed:

  • Venue's and organizer's availability
  • Where to announce / post when workshop is scheduled

Skills needed:

  • Tolerance for email back-and-forth to determine date of workshop

Hosting organizer kick-off meeting

Information needed:

  • Who is organizing
  • General stuff about organizing, to answer their questions

Skills needed:

  • Ability to schedule drinks/coffee with all the organizers and hopefully the mentor
  • Excitement for RailsBridge and workshops
  • Ability to answer questions about organizing

Making sure the workshop is actually being planned

Information needed:

  • Date of the workshop
  • Whether or not the organizers are planning the workshop

Skills needed:

  • Ability to follow up with organizers to make sure things are going okay
  • Judgement to determine if one of the organizers is doing all the work
  • Communication skills to help resolve issues with organizers / mentors / venues should they arise
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