How to Set Up a Workshop

How to Set Up a Workshop for Your Organization or Community*

1.  Learn more about Catalyst Project

Read over our website to get a sense of who we are and what we do.  Decide if Catalyst Project's vision, politics and strategy is what fits best for your needs (please feel encouraged to also ask us questions to help decide as well).  Here's a letter that gives a quick overview of who we are.

Click here to read more about our workshops.

2.  Clarify your needs and develop your goals

Why do you want this workshop to happen?  How do you think it help your work, your organization and/or you community?  What prompted the decision to have the workshop?  What do you want to achieve by doing it? 

3. Who is the workshop for?

The Catalyst Project works primarily with social justice activists.  Our anti-racism workshops are designed by and for white activists, but everyone is welcome to come.  Similiarly, our Challenging Male Supremacy workshop is designed by and for men, but anyone is welcome to come.  We have done workshops for the members of particular groups or networks.  We've done workshops hosted by several organizations for their members.  We have done workshops hosted by one or more groups that is also open to people from the broader community to participate.  We have also done workshops as part of larger gatherings and conferences.  Who the workshop is for is closely related to what goals you are trying to achieve.  We have a set minimum of 20 people for each workshop.  We have led workshops from 20-150 people (although 20-50 is the best in our opinion). 

4. Contact Us

After you've read more about us, figured out your needs and goals and figured out who it is for, contact us.  Let us know who you are and what organization (if any) you work with and explain why you want the workshop and your goals.  Also feel encouraged to ask us questions and let us know if you want support thinking through your goals for the workshop and who it should be for.  We decide what workshops we can and cannot do based on our availability,  capacity and our organizational goals (i.e. supporting activist groups engaged in social justice work).  

5. Take care of the finances

We are a grassroots movement building organization that survives primarily because of the determination of it's primarily volunteer trainers and organizers.  We are working to build our resources and capacity so that we can more effectively support movement building work.  We have a sliding scale workshop fee and we ask that all of our travel expenses be covered.  We also ask that our housing be taken care, which can include sleeping in beds at people's homes or hotels.  We can also give you suggestions and advice about raising money to make this happen.

Initial suggestions for raising money: grants from sponsoring organizations, local churches, businesses, peace and justice centers and other community groups.  If you are a student there are many ways to access money through your school.  You can also ask for donations from family,  friends and other people you know.  This grassroots fundraising is also a way to engage people about anti-racism potentially bringing more people into work for justice.  You can also ask people who come to the workshop to donate money (we encourage using a sliding scale so that money is not a deterant).  Many people have used our overview letter as part of proposals for grants and school funding.

6.  Take care of the logistics

In order for us to do the workshop, we need a room large enough that people can sit comfortably in a circle.  We also need space on walls to post paper.  Please book the space for the time if the workshop plus an hour before for set up and time for clean up.  We need tape, flipchart paper and markers.  It works best if you can provide food during the workshop – snacks, lunch, tea/coffee and water.  If there are places nearby for people to get meals, then snacks are still encouraged.  

7. Setting a date

We generally set dates for workshops 3-6 months in advance.  We believe that this allows time for the organizations hosting the workshop to clarify their goals, take care of the logistics and develop and implement a successful outreach plan to get people to the workshop.

8. Outreach

Your outreach is critical to the success of the workshop.  Getting who you want to be there is key to meeting your goals.  But in addition to getting people to the workshop, your outreach strategy is also how you are preparing people for the workshop.  People should be coming to the workshop with a clear idea of what they are coming to and be prepared.  

If the workshop is for a particular organization or community of activists, the more you can use the outreach as a way to have deeper conversations about the issues you want to explore in the workshop, the more prepared you'll all be to reach your goals in the workshop.  Having one on one conversations with people to discuss the workshop is an excellent way to get a sense of where people are at (which you can then share with us) but also helps build people's investment in the overall process, which generally leads to higher participation.  

Recruiting other people to help develop and implement an outreach strategy is also a really good way to help build your group.  If you are recruiting participants from other groups and projects in your community this can also be an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones.  Remember that we have a minimum of 20 people for our workshops.  Making reminder phone calls to people the day before the workshop is really effective.

9. Media

Depending on who you want to be at the workshop, using the media to do outreach (posting in alternative weeklies or radio stations for example) can be useful.  However, you can also use the media to get anti-racist politics out to people and promote the work and politics of your organization, conference or project.  What we recommend is sending out a press release to local media about the workshop not to promote people coming to the workshop (unless the media specifically reaches who you want to be there), but to see if there is interest in doing an interview with your organization and/or the Catalyst Project about why the workshop is happening and what it is about.  This generally works well for alternative media or campus media (particularly for radio and print media).  Doing media work is not required as part of our agreements for doing workshops, but we do think it is a useful way to communicate with broader numbers of people about why white people have a stake in fighting racism or what it means to be a man working for a feminist future.  

10. Follow Up

Once the workshop is done there are several key steps that are really useful to take.

One. after the workshop, send people an email, call them up or have a conversation with them thanking them for being there and use it as an opportunity to ask people what they thought about it.

Two, evaluate with the people who you worked with to make the workshop happen.  If you feel comfortable sharing that evaluation with us, we would very much appreciate the feedback (particularly constructive criticism).  After your evaluation discuss what next steps you want to take to further achieve your goals.  Think about ways to support people who went through the workshop to take on more responsibility and leadership in your organization/community.  The follow up were are suggesting is not a requirement for us to do the workshop.

*If you are interested in having us give a talk or key-note at a conference, most of this is the same.  Please feel free to call us with any questions.