Joint action plan for more ‘green’ volunteers with larger impact in Brabant

Seven different nature organisations in the province of Noord-Brabant all want to activate and maintain more ‘green’ volunteers. Perspectivity designed and facilitated a series of sessions to discover mutual interest and design reinforcing action presented in a joint action plan.
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CLIENT:

Province of Noord-Brabant

Question:

We want to activate and maintain more green volunteers in Noord-Brabant to be able to increase our impact. Can you support us in making a joint action plan to realize this?

Process:

Design, facilitation and reporting of five work sessions of a few dozen professionals of green organisations and provincial civil servants.

 

Results:

  • A constructive and inspiring collaboration between varying environmental and nature organisations (instead of sentiments of competition).
  • Collectively supported action plan with concrete project proposals for the deployment of volunteers. 

In Noord-Brabant, ‘green’ volunteers deliver an important contribution to the management, conservation and experience of nature. However, research shows that the volunteer base is slowly ageing. At the same time, about 15 per cent of Dutch people are very enthusiastic about being active outdoors during their free time. How are nature and environmental organisations dealing with this changing volunteer base? What bottlenecks and opportunities do they see? And how can they better respond to them?

Creating an open atmosphere

De province of Noord-Brabant took the initiative to unite seven local green organisations around this challenge. They asked Perspectivity to design and facilitate a series of sessions. De organisations knew each other but did not yet collaborate intensively. In close consultation with the provincial civil servants, we tailor-made the content, the flow and methods used during the meetings. It was the first time these organisations started working together in this way. Therefore, it was important to create an open atmosphere in which there was room for everyone to contribute, to learn to speak each other’s language and to build trust.

The first session was aimed at getting to know each other and exploring mutual interests and ambitions. It turned out that there were many commonalities in working with volunteers and one broadly shared ambition: better utilization of current and new volunteers for the benefit of nature in Brabant.

“Positive and inspiring. No competition, but desirable cooperation that feels good.”

Variation in methods and a clear goal for each session

In the following sessions, we discovered together what went well and what else is possible, with the shared ambition in mind. Self-motivation and self-organisation were paramount during the sessions: as facilitators, we created the conditions for participants to discover for themselves how they want to and can work together. After all, every group is different. A variation in working methods, with a good alternation between dialogue, creation and reflection, and between thinking and doing, helps to achieve this. Each session had a clear goal, worked towards a concrete harvest and ended with clear agreements on the next steps.

A widely supported action plan and ongoing collaboration

During the sessions, the participants become more and more enthusiastic about joining forces to better support the growing group of volunteers. This resulted in a widely supported action plan: Impulse for the Brabant Green Volunteers. In addition to strengthening existing activities, this plan outlines thirteen concrete new ideas for projects that the organisations will start to implement step-by-step in various combinations of organisations. The province of Noord-Brabant will provide for a part of the financing. The province has transferred the control over the collaboration to the green organisations themselves.