Board/Minutes/2021-02-S2S/Encouraging more volunteers to join other working groups

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

Encouraging more volunteers to join other working groups

Notes by participants. Might be enriched.

This session took place in parallel with "Reality-based assessment of risks and opportunities of collaboration of work with other OSM actors". A summary was provided to the other group.



Board members

  • Allan Mustard
  • Eugene Alvin Villar
  • Guillaume Rischard
  • Jean-Marc Liotier (facilitator for this session)

The rest of the board members participated in the parallel session.


Also present: Dorothea Kazazi (administrative assistant)

Collaborative notes

Not an unusual problem in non-profits - maybe no magic solution.

Lack of actual participation compounds the low membership numbers.

Reasons for lack of volunteers in Working Groups (WGs):

  • Lack of interest, actually a good thing when people do things without bothering with Working Group bureaucracy.
  • Lack of knowledge of working group.
    • Lack of awareness that the working group even exists.
    • Ignorance of the fun problems.
    • Fear of workload.
  • Join working groups but leave demotivated or disgusted.
  • Lack of appreciation - invisible work.
  • Frustration with Board over veto, though actual veto is rare.

Recruiting and retention are distinct problems.

HOT ran a campaign promoting HOT working groups - we should look into that.


  • Periodical Working Group showcase making work visible and recognized.
  • Working group active member roster.
  • Token of appreciation (beers, chocolate, desk trophies etc.)
  • How to prevent burnout?
  • Look at where engagement and retention succeeded - State of the Map organising committee (SotM WG) for example.

Working group awareness campaign

  • Interviews with Working Groups.
  • Promote interview & article (WeeklyOSM etc.).
  • Show how working groups take initiative independent from the board.
  • Each working group keep a list of specific tasks that need help. First concrete task can act as the onboarding scaffold.

Have interested Working Groups prepare for arrival of new members

  • Express needs.
  • Detail concrete tasks.
  • Ready for multilingualism. Linguistic subgroups could liberate energies - needs an English-speaking liaison.
  • On-boarding - make it obvious.

Membership drive


  • Create a volunteer appreciation program (buy and send tokens to valued community and Working Group volunteers).
  • Start using Microsoft Translator + DeepL.

Action items

  • Eugene to ask HOT how their Working Group drive went.
  • Guillaume to collect list of volunteers to send beers and chocolate and hats to.