- Recruiting Members
- Finding Speakers for Pod Meetings
- Running Successful Meetings and Maintaining Enthusiasm
- Working on Projects
- Connecting Online with your Pod
Develop An Identity
- A fun or catchy Pod name can entice people’s interest.
- Build a purpose people can get behind. Consider what motivated or inspired YOU to embrace a WFPB lifestyle.
- Are there particular aspects of the lifestyle that you’d like the Pod to focus on?
- Hold regular meetings – e.g., monthly or quarterly – so people become familiar with your Pod.
- Design flyers (printed and digital) and other Pod materials that are consistent in format, colorful, and unique for easy recognition.
Use Your Resources
- Recruit friends and family to participate in the Pod and spread the word–ask them to share flyers and bring others they know who may be interested in meetings.
- Post about your Pod on social media, or email your personal contact list. Consider creating a Facebook group for members to join.
- Join local online plant-based Facebook and Meetup groups that might be interested in your Pod’s projects and events.
- Submit upcoming events to community calendars and newsletters.
- Request organizations and businesses with shared values to help promote your Pod.
- Set up a table at large events in the community (veg fests, concerts, famous speakers, back to school events).
Create a Buzz
- Build excitement by designing fun activities in addition to your monthly potlucks, like cooking classes, vegetable farm or animal sanctuary field trips, or community movie screenings.
- Invite a well-known figure (local or otherwise) to speak at a Pod event and encourage other people in the community to attend.
- Participate in local events like vegfests, seed exchanges, farmers’ markets and health fairs where you promote your Pod while meeting potential members.
- Most of all, be enthusiastic and welcoming, and believe in what you’re doing!
To keep meetings interesting, consider inviting guest speakers to offer their stories, advice, and motivation.
Where to Look
- Find out what topics Pod members would be interested in having covered.
- Explore your own network. Remember that speakers do not have to be celebrities.
- Post in online plant-based support groups and check LinkedIn contacts.
- Invite Pod members to speak; there are likely a few who have inspiring stories of healing from a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle.
Think outside the whole food, plant-based box and consider getting speakers from complementary areas, such as:
- Environmental organizations, master gardeners, local healthy food restaurant owners or health food store owners, representatives from a local farmers’ market, food co-op, or community-supported agriculture (CSA), recreation/fitness groups…
To run a successful meeting, keep the interest of members, and grow the Pod, it is crucial to keep members engaged.
Ways to Maintain and Increase Attendance
Picking a Date
- If possible, schedule your next meeting so you can announced this date at the end of the current meeting. That way you can confirm that this time works for most people present.
- Check the local calendar for events happening in your area, and try to plan your meetings to avoid conflicts.
Choosing a Location
- Hold meetings at locations that are convenient to Pod members. If your Pod covers a large area, alternate between a couple of locations.
- Restaurants are great, but they can be noisy and sometimes it can be difficult to get the entire group seated together. Other locations might include the community room in a local library, a member’s home, church community rooms, local college/university, YMCA, or parks during good weather with available shelter and picnic areas.
- When choosing a location, remember to consider parking options, access to the building and restrooms, audio-visual equipment, etc. If you plan to show a movie or give a presentation, ensure in advance that you’ll have the A/V equipment that you need and practice setting it up so you know it works.
- Organize your meeting around a potluck, where each member brings one dish, along with the recipe they used. Members should post their recipes to a recipe board so people can take photos with the phones.
- Respect people’s time – Start and finish your meeting as scheduled and avoid long meetings.
- Include name tag – Ask people when they arrive to apply an adhesive name tag to their clothing. And periodically, it may also be help to do a roundtable of short introductions.
- Welcome newcomers – For many people, it can be intimidating to join a new group, especially if they don’t already know someone. Make sure new guests are greeted individually.
- Plan social time – Allow a little time at the beginning of the meeting for people to greet and socialize. Remember that building community is a core goal for Pods.
Ways to Keep People Engaged and Enthusiastic
Keeping Meetings Fresh
- Think about the message you want people to receive from the meeting and always prepare an agenda.
- Always check out on PPC’s website the suggested media/content for monthly meetings and incorporate this into your upcoming meeting.
- Invite speakers to offer presentations.
- Offer donated door prizes such as books or DVDs.
- Identify one or more long-term projects with the Pod to undertake. Make time at each meeting to hear updates about the project and seek feedback.
Staying in Touch and Getting to Know One Another
- Always have a sign-up sheet with email addresses next to the name tags. Take time to reach out to members who missed one or two meetings.
- Between meetings, stay in touch with members via email and/or a social media group. Share articles, recipes, etc.
With the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle as your foundation, consider taking on one of these projects or activities to create a positive, lasting impact in your community.
A focus on making a difference in the community can unite members around the endeavor and attract new people to the movement.
- Select a local restaurant with plant-based options. Call in advance and ask for a WFPB meal for your group. Eat out at that restaurant, which might encourage them to offer healthier plant-based meals. Choose that same or another restaurant and repeat.
- Participate in our Restaurant Campaign to increase the number of plant-based, oil free food options available in your town. Consider creating a committee that is responsible for reaching out to restaurants.
- Start a gardening project as a group at a local community garden.
- Volunteer at a local vegan animal sanctuary.
- Open a whole food, plant-based food bank for low-income people who want to eat a plant-based diet.
- Show various plant-based documentaries at senior centers and then have a discussion group (see if a dietitian supporting plant-based eating, Plant-Based Nutrition Course Graduate, or Food for Life Instructor would help facilitate the discussion).
- Work through the public school system to get them to offer one WFPB meal option on the school menu (and ideally, have it be included in the reduced-cost/free menu options).
- Work with local farmers to provide a farmers’ market in low-income neighborhoods, and then help to publicize and create traffic so that the market will continue to be offered.
- Organize a local health fair or veg fest.
- Offer to teach cooking classes to groups with whom Pod members already have a relationship, such as a local church, school, cancer support groups, YMCA, etc.
- Offer to facilitate Jumpstarts in your local church or at your work, and then have your Pod provide additional cooking and shopping training. Learn more here.
- Don’t forget to reach out to local media to let them know about any of your Pod’s community events so they can take pictures/video and publish a story!
There are many ways to keep in touch with your Pod members between events, some of which may also work to attract new people to join your Pod.
Step 1 : Build the Pod Contact List
We encourage each Pod leader to retain a list of Pod member phone numbers and email addresses.
In order to establish your Pod, we recommend you focus first on having the ability to connect with Pod members personally (email, phone, in-person). Plan on sending periodic emails, and use them to promote your events and to establish a supportive base of members.
Creating a mailing list can be easy:
- Store member emails:
We recommend using Google Sheets as you can access the list from any computer, share it with co-leaders, and avoid the risk of losing the list if your computer crashes.
- Set up the sheet so that each email address is in a cell in a single column. You may also wish to include other information about your members, such as their names and phone numbers. Place this info in additional columns.
- Sending messages:
- Select the column with the email addresses and click “Copy”.
- Paste the email addresses into the email address field. We recommend that you use the “BCC” field.
Step 2 : Creating an Online Pod Presence
When you’re ready to broadcast your Pod to the larger community, there are many options available, some free and some with fees. For Pods in larger cities, these options, such as Facebook, can connect you to large existing organizations that will happily help broadcast your message on their groups and pages. As your Pod grows, consider adding additional forms of communication like Meetup, MailChimp, or Eventbrite.
Facebook – facebook.com
Facebook allows you access to like-minded individuals with the click of a few buttons. Whether you like Facebook or not, we can all agree that it has an all-in-one atmosphere for event planning that helps drive turnout.
- Setting up: Choose whether you would like to create a “Group” or “Page” or both.
- Group – groups allow for discussion among members. You can decide whether you would like to approve all member posts, or whether members can post without approval. We encourage our Pods to make their groups “public” so that people interested in the Pod can learn more. Instructions can be found in this article and/or video.
- Page – allows you to post and allows others to follow. You would be the only one who can post and you would need to approve all member posts and publish them under your own name. Instructions can be found in this article and this video.
- If your intent is to create conversation among Pod members, we recommend that you create a “group.” Pages are primarily used by businesses or organizations.
- Promoting events on Facebook: If you intend to advertise your event publicly to a large community, then we suggest that you create an event on your personal Facebook page and then share that link to others in the community. This is most important if your Pod is located in a large city with other active Facebook pages. If you create an event in your group, then only those who join your group can attend the event. If you create an event in a private group, then only your private group will know about the event.
- Creating an event on your personal page, is simple. Go to your news feed (click the Facebook logo on the top left) and follow these instructions.
Meetup – meetup.com
Cost: ~$100 for 6 months or up to $35 a month for Meetup Pro
Meetup is a platform for finding and building local communities. People use Meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions together.
- Setting up: Go to Meetup.com and follow their instructions under “Start a Group.”
- The basic plan costs ~$200 a year to host 3 Meetup groups. Pods can team up and split the cost of the Meetup allowing each Pod access to a single group for $65 a year. In addition, Pods who use Meetup often ask for a donation from members to help cover the cost of the Meetup account.
- Like Facebook, you might have a large Meetup with low turnout. Pods tell us that although their Meetup might have 200 people, few members actually engage over the platform. People can create a free account and join meetups all over the world without paying. Neither a Meetup page nor a Facebook group can guarantee an active Pod.
Google Groups – groups.google.com
All of your discussions in one place: Organize with favorites and folders, choose to follow along via email, and quickly find unread posts. It is possible to access Groups from anywhere using your mobile device.
- Choose the type of Group you want: Email list, Web Forum, Q&A Forum, or Collaborative Inbox.
- Choose whether you want the Group visible to anyone on the web or just the Group members.
- Organize your discussions by topic and choose who can search for topics.
- Control who can post and who can join the group.
Mailchimp – mailchimp.com
Cost: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month. There are fees for plans with more contacts, emails, and advanced automation.
Mailchimp helps you keep track of new members, allows members to subscribe and unsubscribe, allows you to address each individual by their name, and shows who opens the emails.
- Setting up: Visit the Mailchimp 101 page for details.
- Import your email list into the platform.
EventBrite – eventbrite.com
Since Pod events are typically free (or request donations to cover costs) you can use Eventbrite to advertise events. You can use this in addition to other methods, and it can help get the word out to those who do not use Facebook.
Create your own Website
There are many options for creating a website, some of which cost money. Consider using WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace.
Other Websites or Services to Consider
Group texting – Phone needed. This option could be good for a small group chat (10 people or less) and works for quick communication with short, to-the-point messages. With larger groups, there would likely be too many messages each day.
Facebook Messenger – This option works well for a small group chat (10 people or less), making it easy to share articles, events, and photos. With larger groups, there would likely be too many messages each day.
WhatsApp – A great option for international Pods. This app could be good for a small group chat (10 people or less) and makes it easy to share articles and photos. With larger groups, there would likely be too many messages each day.
GroupMe – This app creates a private chatroom for anyone in your group, allowing you to keep in regular contact with members and encouraging more regular conversation among members. Keep in mind that it works best for people who have smartphones. Those without a smartphone might find it overwhelming if there are many messages sent each day.