Once you have reached the point where you are creating paid jobs for your local community by cleaning up your local river or beach, there are a few pointers we would like to share with you. These pointers also apply if you only have a volunteer team.

  1. You need to be able to effectively communicate what work needs to be done. 

There may be language barriers so it’s important to be  very clear in your communication with your team. 

  1. Your own physical participation will certainly earn you the respect of your team.

You need to lead by example. If your team sees you doing the work, they will follow.

  1. Appointing a Team Leader

Each person needs to find his/her own flow in doing the work, even though you are guiding them. You will soon see who stands out as a leader. Once this becomes obvious, you need to approach this team member and ask them if they would like to be a Team Leader. Be sure to communicate exactly what this will entail and how many hours per week it requires. Should the person accept the position as Team leader, and you need to make it known to the rest of the team that you have appointed one person as the Team Leader. 

This is your GOLD. A well respected Team Leader will easily be able to communicate with the team in their language and you will have one point of contact to communicate about all your cleanup activities. Be sure to cover the data and airtime costs of your Team Leader so that he/she is not out of pocket for his/her Comms with the team unless he/she is able to cover these costs by themselves. Should your Team Leader require these costs to be covered, you will need to set about securing sponsorship from your local businesses.

  1. Your message needs to be clear and consistent.

Whether you are communicating with your team or with the community at large, your message should be clear: we are custodians of the Earth and we deserve to live in a clean environment, and the environment deserves to be clean and healthy! 

  1. Safety

It’s not highly technical to clean up the planet, if you have hands, you can do it. However, it is vitally important to ensure that you and your crew are taking all the necessary safety precautions to avoid being infected by pollutants and/or contaminants.  For river work, it is advisable to wear waders, life jackets and use safety harnesses and ropes while working in water. Gumboots on the river banks are very useful, and protective gloves are vital because of contamination and also sharp objects that are around such as sticks, thorns or even needles.  

You need to be constantly aware of your crew at all times during cleanups, and you should have emergency exit plans in place in the event of flash floods.

  1. Purpose and acknowledgement

Your team is the core of your operation, and often, they are people who are living well below the breadline and in extreme poverty. This work can really give them a sense of purpose and will lead to them being “noticed” in the community.

A team leader from Hennops Revival in South Africa recently appeared on the front page of the local newspaper and he told our Chairperson that everyone he passed on the road acknowledged him, and they told him about the article before the project organisers had even seen it.

Acknowledgements are so important, and be sure to compliment your crew after a job and show them what magic they have done by taking before and after photos and letting them see how amazing they are.

  1. Substance abuse

Remember that, often in poverty, people are faced with substance dependence issues and you need to make it very clear that there can be no misconduct, drunkenness or any other intoxication while working in the water or on the beaches. The risk is far too great and this needs to be respected as a rule.

  1. Volunteering vs paid work

It’s a good idea to get your crew to volunteer from time to time, this will also give you a clear indication of who is in it from the heart. Those who are doing it from the heart are the more dependable members of your team.

  1. Don’t forget to have fun!

Remember, it’s not an institution, it’s a river or a beach. Don’t forget to have fun! It’s hard work, physical, labour intensive work, but it doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, the more fun and laughter you share with your team, the less it feels like work and yet, the work still gets done!

  1. Open door policy

Our Chairperson has an open door policy where her crew are welcome to approach her at any time. They know she looks after them in any way she can and they trust her.  But when it comes to anything work related they actually prefer working through the Team Leader, which gives them the ability to communicate in their own language..

  1. If you wish to register your organisation as a non-profit

Should you get to the point where you want to register your project as a non-profit, it becomes vital to be fully transparent with the directors of your non-profit.  Each director will take on their own role and these roles should be clearly set out and agreed upon in order to run your NPO efficiently. Create a platform where you can communicate as Directors to keep each other abreast of all movements. 

Administrative roles should also be clearly defined and expectations, timelines and deadlines need to be communicated and respected. 

  1. Effective communication

Communication is the key. If you don’t express your needs, expectations and boundaries, nobody will know, so use your voice, even when it feels uncomfortable and out of character. 

Tarryn Johnston

Founding Director: Hennops Revival