Establishing and Running an Ambassador Scheme#

Setting up the Scheme#

To launch an ambassador scheme, you will likely need to work with and get approval and sign-off from different departments in your organisation, such as finance, legal, communications and project management.

This may require thinking about how the scheme will contribute to organisational priorities such as capacity building, wider engagement of research and/or training so you can secure leadership buy-in. If the scheme will have financial implications then you will need to think about how you will measure and demonstrate its impact.

Ensure you leave plenty of time for these processes and document your plans clearly so others can easily understand the vision.

Planning the Scheme#

When it comes to planning an ambassador scheme, a good starting point is to think about what you want to achieve and what you can provide to participants. Schemes can vary widely in format, length and facets.

  • What will you offer ambassadors and what will they be doing?

    • You could provide a financial fund for them to travel to a conference or run their own event, you could run a training programme, they could be representing your organisation at their home institution or they could be creating their own resources. You could combine one or multiple of these elements into a scheme.

  • How will ambassadors take part in the scheme?

    • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of a virtual cohort as opposed to in-person activities or whether you want to incorporate both elements. Think about how you will create a sense of community with your cohort, how often and which tools you will use to connect with your ambassadors and them with each other.

  • What size will the scheme be and how long will it continue for?

    • Consider how much capacity you have to support ambassadors. If the scheme has an ending point, think about how you will offboard people and/or maintain contact through a potential alumni scheme.

  • What will be the benefits of your scheme?

    • You may have scope to provide financial benefits, although many schemes are volunteer only. Think about what meaningful benefits would entice people to take part.

Application Process#

You will need to set up a website or webpage (for example on your organisation’s website) with detailed information about the scheme, how it will work, benefits, timelines and the application process. It may be useful to put this information in a call document for ease, alongside any other documentation such as an FAQs and a copy of the contract participants will need to sign if they are successful. You could also run an information webinar to give more context on the scheme and give an opportunity for questions from people interested in applying. You can make a recording of this available afterwards for increased accessibility.

Running the Scheme#

A useful start to the scheme is holding an onboarding meeting where you can bring together your ambassadors as a group to give information on how the scheme will work and let them get to know each other. It may also be sensible to organise individual onboarding calls where you can set up participants on systems as needed and help brainstorm their work/activities for the scheme. Additionally you can provide an onboarding document or website, which participants can refer to throughout the scheme.

After this initial onboarding, plan how often your cohort will meet and how you will all communicate during the scheme - asynchronous tools like email or Slack are practical for this. This will also feed into how you create a sense of community within your cohort. At the end of your scheme, it may be nice to run a celebration or graduation type style event to celebrate everyone’s hard work.

Once you’ve launched the scheme you can plan some communications around it to boost the profile of your ambassadors and to encourage the wider community to engage with them and their activities. You may also want to make things like their project milestones and documentation open for good practice.

Capturing the Impact of the Scheme#

Throughout the running of the scheme it is important to capture the impact. The impact of the scheme may determine whether the scheme can be run again in terms of organisational or financial support. This information is also important to record for reporting purposes for any organisation.

Recording impact could be done by keeping a spreadsheet of metrics such as how many events happened, how many people attended, how many resources were created and so on. It could also involve qualitative metrics such as blog posts on projects and capturing testimonials from the ambassadors themselves or people in the community that have been involved in their activities.

End of Ambassador Cohorts#

Whether you are continuing your ambassador scheme or only running one cohort, it is important to think about what needs to be done at the end of each cohort to close it down.

As mentioned above, capturing metrics and testimonials for impact is important and will be part of this closing down process, but it is also important to get feedback. This can be done verbally or through an electronic form.

It is also important to archive the materials created for the scheme. This will include the process documentation used to run the scheme and also outputs developed by the ambassadors. It is best practice to make these resources openly available by depositing them in a FAIR manner using an open repository such as Zenodo- Steps for Making Research Objects Citable. This ensures that others who might want to run similar schemes can access them and also all of the outputs, as well as providing a citable output for you and the ambassadors so that you get credit for the work that you have all done.