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Organization's History

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This technique helps to create a historical timeline for your organization with the collective work of your group members.

This activity can be a stand alone workshop or part of a planning workshop.



To capture an organization's history especially the verbal parts of it.





    Setting: A room with walls where a long sheet of butcher paper or roll of news print can be put up.

    Time needed: two or three weeks part time

    Ideal conditions: This is a way of doing a workshop without having to have everyone in the room at the same time. People can add to the wall chart as they pass by it.

    Pre-Work Required: The timeline needs to be put up before hand. An announcement is made to the whole group asking them to participate in the project by filling in dates.

    Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: informal

    Facilitator personality fit: no needed

    Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): No specific skills required


    1. Obtain the end roll of a newsprint roll - check with church's volunteer catering committee, they also make great table cloths for trestles.

    2. Run the newsprint around the wall of the church hall so that it is a supersize flip chart.

    3. Leave some markers nearby.

    4. Put up a logarithmic scale of dates from the time the organization was created. 1890 1910 1930 1950 1960 1970 1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 ....

    5. Put in some key dates - the church was founded, the buildings, the date the last pastor arrived etc in a logarithmic scale (There will be less events to recall from the very early days, more from more recent times.)

    6. Write the dates at the top (Higher side) of the roll, spaced around the wall.

    7. Ask people to write any event they recall under the year. Ask people to add dates and events when they pass the church (At their convenience, rather than at a set time.)

    8. You will need to spend a few hours with a handful of volunteers to assemble some dates in advance. An hour with two or three helpers to erect the flip chart, and fifteen minutes from the pulpit to explain the process.

    9. Leave it up for two weeks.

    10. Have an assembly of about an hour (lunch after church?) to debrief.

    11. Have a few volunteers to turn the record into an almanac.


    Follow-Up Required: none

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: a list of events over the whole history of the organization

    Potential pitfalls: No participation

    How success is evaluated: The chart is filled in.

    Tip for use in online facilitation

    You can transfer this exercise to online facilitation easily with the use of a collaboration board. Follow the instructions from steps 4- 6 in preparing the  board, using sticky notes and text boxes and any other tools that may be helpful.  Invite team members to add the events they remember under the dates listed. Leave it up for two weeks to allow them time to think and add information as it comes to mind. After the two weeks, you can bring everyone together in an online session and process the information and decide the next steps.


    Source: John Sleigh

    Derived from: Unknown

    History of Development: unknown

    Comments (2) (4.0 avg / 1 ratings)

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    • This is a great way to engage members in reviewing and writing the history of the organisation. It could also be used as a teambuilding exercise.

      over 1 year ago
    • Doesn't need to be a church! Could work for any organization. It can help people feel a part of the history.

      over 4 years ago