Good for Nothing in a Pub met Sunday Assembly #gfninapub #2

So, on a spring-like Tuesday evening a motley crue of soulful doers from London gathered, drank some beer...and did their thing for an ace crew called the Sunday Assembly. It was great to see loads of new faces and a few familiar ones in a sell-out that had folk literally working from the rafters in the Betsey Trotwood pub

This was the chunky challenge (in true GFN style,_ _it got changed 5 mins before we kicked off...)

And this is a scribbled post on what everyone came up with in just 90 mins.

In just the time it takes to watch a game of football, the collective brain power in the room developed some great ideas, had some challenges and donated a big boost of creativity to help Sanderson and the gang take their church without god concept global!

All for nothing...

Next up, please do add to the ideas/thinking and get in touch with Sanderson direct to get more involved in making them happen.

Peace/out and see you next time!

#1: Sunday Assembly Everywhere

The 'expansionists tackled the challenge of how to help people start their own Assembly

They concluded that it was critical to balance the open-ness and control of what is an amazing brand. They challenged SA to be clear on what format needed to be the same, and what values were important to keep consistent everywhere whilst being open and sensitive to different local variations on the theme.

They also suggested that the core proposition needed to be more fully developed as it's very hard to scale up something that is still really being created. Most critically SA need to identify what is 'crucial' to the success of the experience and what the risks are with letting it go.

They looked to 3 other examples who seemed to be finding solutions that balanced the 2 tensions - Alcoholics Anonymous, The Women's Institute and GFN.

Fittingly, given the environment, AA provided a useful analogy where you just need to subscribe to and follow 12 traditions to start up your own group keeping it very simple.

The idea of a toolkit to become a group was developed which needs to be used on a 'trust basis' i.e. if you really want to do it, you are more likely to make it work

The underlying principle for the toolkit is that strong communities 'self-police' and people will speak up if something doesn't feel right so you don't need to spend time or energy 'enforcing' things.

3 core components to making it work with the

  1. follow meeting structure

  2. follow a 'business' structure with 3 members on the 'board - 3 legged stools don't wobble (apparently)

  3. follow the core values e.g. positivity, making things better and not negative or poking fun at other religions

The idea of a buddy system was suggested where a new group signs-up and gets a buddy from an existing group who helps them and can chat / Skype pre and post meetings.

The idea of a democratic rolling governance structure was put forward that acts much more like a movement, and people rotate their involvement with an annual conference that anyone can attend from anywhere - like a 'Synod' where each group elects 1-2 reps to discuss policy and direction

The carrot is the brand being created - share the idea, publicity and awareness and use the logo, colours. But in return people to need to follow a common way of thinking and doing.

The final point made was that overall the carrot needed to be greater than the stick and if people don't want to follow some simple guidelines, then they can do something themselves but not use the site or the logo for their own version.

#2. Communications

The team apparently started by doing a SWOT (!) and quickly felt challenged by the "aetheist church" descriptor currently used by Sunday Assembly.

On the plus side, it's descriptive, direct and disruptive but on the downside, it comes with lots of baggage, is easily misunderstood (relative to the actual experience) and divisive. With 'church' making it feel overtly 'Christian'.

Their first conclusion was to get rid of it -> "exorcise it" as it holds back people from coming who would enjoy it but would never come to something labelled like this.

The second area they tackled was the other elements of the brand - the words, the graphics and so on,

Not holding back, they again felt the current approach didn't properly represent the actual experience - feeling 'academic, liberal elite, vintage and small' instead of funny, joyous, inspirational, thoughtful, exuberant and all the other great values that SA has going for it.

From a web point of view, they recommended taking the site forward as more of a platform for ideas and action and not just a portal for 'information'.

In terms of PR (which is currently not really a problem), they suggested building on the momentum and using it as a tool to put more goodness into the world. Ultimately as important as what goes on inside the 'church'.

They played with ideas around 'random acts of kindness' where SA goers help out local communities in different ways be it signing in the square, volunteering at soup kitchens and a whole stack of other relevant local ways to help out

The content opportunity using video of Pippa and Sanderson as a 'channel' to spread the word was highlighted - easy to do, portable and shareable. Doing Assembly podcasts and spreading via social networks rather than complex bespoke apps.

And the need to find and engage a wider blogger community who are engaged around these sorts of new ideas to get the word out to more potential assembly groups and goers.

#3. Sustaining Sunday Assembly (in London)

This team explored mechanisms for ensuring its long term sustainability and in particular the effect on the local community.

Their basic assumption was that folks want to do some good outside of just coming to the Assembly which means we need a find a list of things for people to help out and do, and a way of finding people who can offer skills to do them.

They suggested asking the community on what it wanted to do as a startpoint - online surveys, offline voting e.g. like Waitrose tokens at end of Assembly.

And the idea of themes for each month - with 1 big thing for everyone to help with, and lots of small random things for individuals to give in a small way.

And an online and physical noticeboard for opportunities to support local communities as the basic approach to do that.

So for example find a 'helping vulnerable people in the community' and offer skill-sharing directly after a Sunday Assembly when the momentum and energy is high and people are already all together.

Volunteering is more complex, it needs CRB checks, funding, organisation and admin but skills sharing is easier so create a simple Skill Exchange -on and offline.

e.g. a tech afternoon with 2/3 groups running session ranging from how to use Word or send an e-mail through to more advanced stuff like photoshop and even basic coding!

#4. Impacts and Indicators

Team 'data geek' explored ways to use data to track, measure and communicate the Sunday Assembly effect including impact on increasing 'happiness'.

  1. They looked at a range of dimensions for indicators to explore the impacts and effect that SA has on people.

_Happiness _- based on how you've helped someone

Attendance - based on how many times you've attended

Participation - signing up to speak, sharing skills etc

_Positivity _- living better

Promotion -telling other people

  1. They looked at instagram/hashtags/geotag but concluded that it's far better to forget about getting people to play around digitally in church as it's more about getting involved, having fun and meeting other people (rather than staring at your gadget screen!).

  2. Instead they suggested a more 'lo-fi' manual and visual way of recording data. Stick a big map of the local area up in the venue and mark with a red cross somewhere where you've helped someone this week...

  3. And ideas that capture data e.g. a simple digital tool for a tablet that you fill in as you come in and out of the venue - have you been before, and will you come again?

A big theme emerged that was how to get data without asking intrusive questions so they explored 'proxies' - things like re-attendance and how many friends you've made that you can stick up on a physical noticeboard in the venue - make it easy for people to see in the space and interact with each other.

  1. Creating a 'collection' but for virtual currency based on good deeds, and then vote where money goes for good deeds - a local, then global reallocation of wealth (er, yeah!).

  2. The next phase could be the development of a Sunday Assembly app that demoes local impacts, shares local networks and experiments/experience and links into existing social networks like FB.

#5. Kickstarting Sunday Assembly

Team Kickstarter looked at how SA might launch a Kickstarter campaign to generate awareness and raise funds to help expand. Overall they had more questions than answers but outlined how SA might best approach this....

1. What's the cash for?

Products/experiences e.g. manual/handout

Tiered level of interest/contribution e.g. T-shirts, song-sheets, other merchandise

Research/expansion e.g. to develop SA further and share story of where going

Alternative 'bible' - talks, memories, even a 'Tablet'?

The big question is whether we need money for specific things or just want to make SA a cool thing to be involved in...?

2. Who's the audience?

Folks who want to do good, be positive, meet others and help out - but still not hugely clear on who we want to reach and what will motivate them - need to explore this more.


_3. Best channels to reach them?

Create an online tool to vote on which products SA should develop as first step.

Use videos, social web to focus around city/country to start SA in your area.

4. What do I get as a funder?


_This was challenging - not sure it was appropriate to use Kickstarter in this way for SA at the moment as it's not clear yet what it's 'funding'.


_5. What might be the incentives to give cash?

Tangible things are most persuasive - but for this socially positive group, need to understand better what might get them keen on supporting SA.

In general around fundraising, what is clear is that the emotion levels generated are far greater at the end of the assembly than the beginning. The team challenged themselves on how to open up funding to more people.

So they suggested they could take away the monetary side and drop it lower level e.g. could create an ask for £1 only if the Assembly made someone happy at the end - if you want to give more e.g. £5 or £10 then point people towards the Kickstarter.

Other ideas where how to create a 'virtual organisation' that people can fund different parts of if they wanted e.g. admin, food/drink etc.

Also explored charitable funding as another route via links into NHS wellbeing/Mencap, folk with learning disabilities etc.

More warblings