Recording: Lessons from Community Builders

Watch two Meetup organizers, Max Morrongiello and Doug Meil, for an informative session full of tips on how to run your Meetup group.


Meetup organizers are the heart of our community. We want your groups to be successful, so it’s important to us to provide you with the tools and resources to continue to engage new members and bring people together over shared interests. In this Meetup Live event, we’ve put together a panel of top organizers to share how they’ve overcome some of the challenges that come with building communities.

Watch Max Morrongiello, organizer of Meetup group, “Non-Scene” Gay Friends of Greater Boston, and Doug Meil, organizer of Meetup group Cleveland Big Data, for a conversation as they discuss how they’ve grown their groups and maintained engagement even through the pandemic. You’ll learn the different tricks they use to encourage event attendance, to keep their members engaged during and in between events, and how they’ve managed to meet in person safely.

Main Takeaways from Community Builders:

  • Doug: We got into a meeting cadence many years ago of meeting every other month. That seemed to be the right amount of content.
    As a general recommendation for organizers, try to find the balance that works for you. For my group it happens to be every other month, but for other groups it can be different. Just find that balance and consistency. 
  • Max: ​​Right now we’re doing about two-thirds of our events in person and another third online. We’ve had a lot of success.
    We still have to be careful and take precautions. Having online events especially for people who are vulnerable is important.
    I think people are really hungry for social interaction. Being able to provide opportunities during the pandemic for people to socialize is really helpful. 
  • Max: We usually get about half of the people who sign up show, and sometimes it doesn’t matter, we expect that.
    If there’s a case where we need to make a reservation for a certain number of people, we’ll charge a small, like $5, reservation fee. We’ll refund it if they cancel before the reservation. If it’s after, we’ll say we’ll refund it, but only if someone takes their spot.
    Basically, people need to have skin in the game to keep their RSVP current.
  • Doug: One key thing that I do is that, by the time the current [event] is about to happen, I want the next [event] already on the calendar. So that there’s never a point when anyone looks at the [group page] and it says, “future events – nothing.” 
    I’m always thinking at least one or two ahead. That way there’s always something to look forward to. 

Top Q&A Questions:

  • Without food, how do you give incentives for online meetings?
    • Doug: If it’s a presentation style [event], then focus on content content content. And watch your time and respect the speakers and the audience. Make it worth people’s time. And just keep going. If it’s sporadically scheduled, you’ll get sporadic attendance. 
  • Do you remove members from the group when they are inactive?
    • Max: If they’re not doing anything, it’s not hurting you.
      It’s nice to be able to say, when you’re advertising the group, how many people are in it. Even though they’re not doing anything, it still looks good. 
  • I’m struggling to keep my motivation up as an organizer, any tips?
    • Max: Just think about the people you’re going to be interacting with, the success it’s going to be, being with people. If there’s a way to make the planning of it fun too. Think about all the stuff you’re learning about running an event.
      It’s a learning process. Learning in itself can sometimes be something that can motivate. 
    • Doug: Get a co-organizer. Sometimes organizing can feel like, “oh my god, this is so much work I can’t pull it off.” Having somebody to bounce ideas off of, that’s important. Even if it’s someone who is only doing a little bit, that’s a little bit you’re not doing. You feel like you’re in it together instead of just doing it by yourself.

Last modified on November 23, 2021