Sustaining a group
- Get feedback from the group from time to time to be sure that it is serving a purpose for members.
- Share responsibility for the group by letting others take responsibility. This will help them feel committed and invested in the group.
- Encourage outside contact among members. Members can offer support to each other outside of meetings.
- Keep recruiting. If you have an open group, make sure you continue to get the word out. Groups can stagnate when the membership remains the same all the time, and if members who leave are never replaced your group will not survive.
- Share rewards and failures. Let members know that you appreciate their contributions. When people make mistakes, don’t place blame.
- Keep a realistic perspective. Don’t idealize the support group. There may sometimes be people that your group won’t be able to help; this doesn’t mean your efforts are futile. Also, when members leave, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed them. Usually it means that they have used the group as much as they think is useful and moved on with their lives.
- Remember that this is a support group. The dynamics of a group may change over time – for example, it could become more social in function, or it could change focus in terms of topic. No matter how the group changes, your group’s primary purpose is to provide support and understanding to its individual members.
- Consider asking for a small membership fee or get local sponsorship in order to cover costs and keep your group going long term.