for Community Conversatons
Keep these principles in mind when developing a recruitment strategy.
- Cast a wide net. Talk to everyone you can about the conversations. Use as many different resources as possible. The more people who hear about it, the more likely you are to get a good turn out.
- Do it over time. A quick burst of publicity about a conversation will not reach everyone. Plan to use different recruiting methods over several weeks leading up to a conversation. Think about going door–to–door, putting an announcement on an employee bulletin board, and visiting community meetings.
- Make it personal. People are more likely to
attend a meeting if they have some personal contact with the project.
Obviously, you cannot talk to everyone in your community, but you can
encourage others to talk to their friends and neighbors or you can make
presentations to groups of people, like a church group.
- Take into account local circumstances. Every community has unique circumstances that influence recruiting. People may have concerns about transportation, child care, or location of the conversation. Take these factors into consideration when talking to people about the community conversation.
STEP ONE: Decide Who To Recruit
Remember that the purpose of these conversations is to reach out to as many different people as possible.
Think About These Questions as You Decide How To
Focus Your Recruiting Efforts:
- Who do we need to include to hear different perspectives?
- Do we have a shared sense of what a cross–section of our community looks like?
- Do we need to revisit our assumptions?
- As you think about who to recruit, remember that you need to hold community conversations in different locations around the community.
STEP TWO: Develop a List of People Who Can Help You Reach Out
Think about your community as a web of people and organizations connected to each other through other people and organizations. To get a broad cross–section of the community, it is important to reach out to all parts of this web — not just the people and organizations that you may already be familiar with.
Think Through These Questions as You Develop a List of People and Organizations Who Can Help You Reach Out:
- Where do people from different parts of the community usually get together?
- What are some of the ways that people get information on a regular basis? (Think about church bulletins, local publications, local coffee shop.)
- Which civic leaders — such as pastors or neighborhood association presidents — could help us get the word out to different groups?
- If we do not know the answers to some of these questions, who can help us?
Consider Some of The Following Types of People:
- Religious leaders.
- Members of community groups such as Rotary Clubs, NAACP, volunteer centers, or neighborhood associations.
- Barber shop or beauty parlor owners.
- Local newspaper reporters or newsletter editors.
- Community or recreation center leaders and volunteers.
STEP THREE: Invite People Personally
- Spend time in places where members of the community frequently gather such as a local diner or sporting event. Talk to folks about community engagement and bring along some flyers with information about the conversations.
- Get in touch with individuals, organizations, or publications on your contacts list.
- Personally invite your contacts to attend a conversation.
- Ask partners to make personal invitations to potential conversation participants.
- Ask them to publish or post information about the conversations in their workplace or in their newsletters.
STEP FOUR: Tell People Why They Need to Come to a Community Conversation
Because this is a different type of conversation and you are trying to reach out to people who might not typically be involved in the community, it is important to explain why you want them to attend a conversation.
Potential Participants Want to Know:
- What this meeting is about. Emphasize this is a local effort to engage the community about their aspirations and concerns. Let them know that the conversation is a chance to help the community move forward by understanding how the community thinks about the issues you'll be talking about.
- What it's not. It is not: sponsored by a political party; a business development effort; a complaint session; or a session to sell a particular solution or approach.
- The importance of their role. Let people know that the purpose of these conversations is to hear from them. It is the most important step in shaping the future of the community.
- Logistics. Not only where and when, but specific instructions on how to get to the location, the name and phone number of at least one contact person, and, if applicable, information on how to get to the conversations.