Early Monday morning (or late Sunday night, depending on where you live) a NASA control room exploded with happiness when the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars. We’re going to learn volumes about the planet Mars, but Curiosity can also teach us a thing or five about planning volunteer projects, too.
Big projects take time
Two months ago a team at NASA didn’t sit down and say, “You know what would be awesome? Landing a car on Mars.” There was just a little bit of planning that went into the project.
A volunteer project is like landing a car on another planet; you shouldn’t just expect it to happen. You need to make sure you have a plan for what you want to accomplish with your event and the work that volunteers will do.
Flying space cranes don’t grow on trees
A lot of stuff went into getting Curiosity off of the ground (and away from cats). It wasn’t all electronics and rocket fuel, either. A lot of hours and probably some late-night takeout went into making Curiosity successful.
When you’re looking at planning a volunteer project, don’t forget to plan for all of the ‘stuff’ that you’ll need. Not just the supplies you’ll need for the project, but the time you’ll spend planning the project and making sure that it’s a success!
There’s no ‘I’ in JPL.
There are a lot of people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that worked together to make the Curiosity mission a success.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to plan an event on your own. Bring in coworkers or volunteers to help you make sure you’ve thought of everything so there aren’t any surprises the day of the project.
A multi-million dollar space-car has a camera. Why don’t you?
Don’t forget how powerful images can be when you’r trying to tell your organization’s story? You don’t need a fancy camera, and a lot of us walk around with cameras in our phones!
If you don’t have a camera or a smart phone, ask your volunteers to help! When you’re bringing them all together before the project, ask them to take pictures of the work that they’re doing and the people that they’re helping. At the end of the project when you bring everyone together to talk about the work that you did, ask them to share the pictures that they took on Facebook and Twitter, and to share their best pictures with you!
You can’t tell us you don’t think this guy thinks his job is awesome and has fun at work.
Remember, volunteering is fun. Have fun at your project! Huge success!