Don’t expect everyone in your group to be active, except you want to be heartbroken. It is totally impossible! And besides, I used to think that personality traits would display in any situation, but having been involved in a lot of groups, I see that it doesn’t play out that way. Do you know that most of the people who remain inactive in online and even onsite groups are extroverts? And surprisingly, some who are active are introverts. When it comes to passion, desire has a way of pushing some out of their shells into speaking up. So “that’s his/her temperament” isn’t often the best excuse to give.

In your various location or focus groups, you have certainly noticed the silence of majority of people. These are people, some of which I have been motivated to personally chat up with. What did I discover? That these people have immense knowledge and expertise to contribute meaningfully to the groups; that they sometimes even know better than the active ones. Then the question is why do they decide to keep silent and watch others? There has to be a way of bringing them out of their reluctance or indifference.

During my location group’s first physical meeting- where the turnout was poor, we brainstormed on how to improve members’ participation and here are the three suggestions we came up with:

  1. Calling and following up inactive members
  2. Delegating assignments to them
  3. Making members contribute in cash and in kind


  1. Calling and following up inactive members

Chatting up has made me know some inactive members better. Giving them the feeling that we are interested in them and not just the work makes them feel better. I have had to call about three of my group members and they explained that they were busy. But I encouraged them to read up and respond to posts on the group when they are free and they have been doing so. I also tag them in comments so that they feel responsible to respond and it has also been working.

  1. Delegating assignments to them

A task meant for everyone is meant for no one. Only few willing people would volunteer to take up such responsibilities, so now, we are beginning to assign duties. Assigning tasks improves people’s participation as they would feel a sense of responsibility. And so far, the technique has increased members’ responses on the group.

  1. Making members contribute in cash and in kind

Making members contribute in cash and in kind gets them committed, because they wouldn’t want their contributions to be misappropriated. Therefore, they will want to partake in management and execution- so they become stakeholders of the investment. We are yet to gather funds from members, but I can tell you that they are beginning to ask questions about the fundraising and that is a good sign.


In conclusion, though it is not in everyone’s character to be actively involved in group discussions and activities, we can use and external force to ignite their participation. There is also a need to remind them of what they have signed up for, as well as SI4DEV’s mandate and their roles as Partners or Volunteers.


  1. I use to be active in a particular focus group until i got insulted by another person simply because i was trying to clarify a decision and also make my own contribution. Her statement was not challenged and this drew me back from being active in that group. There are times when i tried pushing it but i feel their is caucus involvement or something, i may be wrong but i notices some of the active ones are not as active as before i guess due to some manners of corrections of other members or some issues their contributions were not acknowledged. This write up gave me a hint of how being in a group can be managed… cant promise to be active in that focus group but i will surely do my task if given cause that is why i am a volunteer. but some of us just have to learn to respect others as we dont even know ourselves well.

    1. Thank you Omotola!

      This Opeyemi. I remember asking you this same question on the Political Platform and you gave me responses too. I know how it can be when one feels degraded. I’m really sorry about that. However, some days ago, I posted something on the Governance Group, where you encountered that same experience. The post aimed at passive members, to know what we weren’t doing right and how we should reform. You needed to have told your story and given an advice. I hope you do so because we are looking at ways to improve members’ participation.

      I will redo the post. Please make sure to respond this time. It is only when you let us know that we can act.

      Thank you Ma’am!

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