How to Lead a Brigade in 10 Easy Steps

Written by Noah Miller, Program Associate for Ghana

Do you want to get involved with the largest student-led movement for global health? Here are 10 simple steps to help you get started!

1. Become a member of your local Chapter because, well, you’ve already binged all the good Netflix.

2. Check your email, attend fundraisers and events, meet deadlines. You still might not really understand what you are a part of, but it feels good to get out of the house.

3. Winter/Spring/Summer break finally comes, and you head to the airport with your group. Everyone is a bit giddy to be traveling internationally, and you still aren’t entirely sure what to expect.

4. Go on brigade. Absolutely love it. The staff are so passionate and warm, and the community members you meet are humble, resilient, and (perhaps) not what you expected!

5. Return to campus excited and full of fire to lead your Chapter on another successful brigade. You’re hooked and you want to share the experience with other students at your university.

6. Get started: Hop on an introduction call with your GB Program Associate (PA) to get an overview of brigade planning and next steps. Your PA is unbelievably cool and you want to be just like them. You feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the information regarding brigade planning and your responsibilities as leader, but you hit the ground running. You need to promote your Chapter, fundraise, and organize.

7. Recruit volunteers: Contact previous brigaders, table at club day, give away free pizza with your flyers, and do more public speaking than you had hoped to do in your entire life. You’ve got your “elevator speech” down to a T.

Tabling at Club Day

8. Fundraise: You have a few ideas from last year’s fundraising, but you’re basically making things up as you go along. Hold bake sales, screen movies, host dinners, and more. Make your brigaders clean their closets, attics, and basements and sell their “junk” at the flea market which takes place in the university parking lot to raise almost a thousand dollars in one day. Hold an iPad raffle to raise another few thousand. Now that you’ve tasted success, you up the ante and apply for an $18,000 university grant. You made a slide show to explain the upcoming brigade and present a breakdown of the budget. You’re nervous the morning of the presentation, but it’s nothing compared to your co-president who drank four cups of coffee and is chittering away like a squirrel on something. Somehow, the presentation goes very well and your audience is excited to hear about your brigade. The school supports you with $12,000.

9. Mobilize: You’ve already been doing a lot of communication with your brigaders to set up fundraisers. You write relatively long emails by necessity, but you are pretty sure that no one reads them. You’ve tried using bold text, highlights, and bright colors to help readers, but your members still send you questions you’ve already answered. So, you start a blog to keep everyone updated on Chapter events and important reminders. Everyone *should* read your blog for the information. You send out email reminders every time you update the blog, because you’re still pretty sure people don’t read thoroughly. Through what must be divine intervention, most people meet the deadlines you gave them and you only need to run around like a chicken with your head cut off chasing down a few unresponsive members. You managed to delegate some important preparation tasks, and everything is finally set to go on brigade.

10. Brigade: You’re back in the airport with all of your luggage and the new brigaders are giddy. They don’t really know what to expect. They are experiencing step #3 and you know exactly how they feel. You are incredibly excited about what is in store for them. The brigade is a resounding success and you’re thrilled and humbled to have played such an important role. You feel that you have a better perspective on what it takes to be successful (see diagram).

Diagram from Business Insider

Takeaway: Although you are literally right back where you started once you return to campus, you’re light years from where you began. You’ve discovered that the world is a very big place that offers a lot to learn outside of the classroom. Planning and preparing for brigade filled your schedule to the very brim, but you still found time to go to the gym and your GPA is stronger than ever. This is because you were driven by a commitment to yourself, your fellow brigaders, and to making an impact through Global Brigade’s Holistic Model. The stakes felt high, because they were. Despite many setbacks, all you will remember when you look back is your hard work, the personal growth that took place, and the satisfaction you felt.

Personally, I hope you are no longer content to be a bystander but are instead inspired to actively participate in the world and in your community. If you aren’t headed toward a career in these fields but still want to make an impact, you can always look inward to become the change you wish to see in the world. Contact us at newchapter@globalbrigades to get involved!

Global Brigades