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How to Recruit Dialogue Participants

How to Recruit Dialogue Participants, published June 2015 by Everyday Democracy, includes five tips to for getting a well-rounded group of dialogue participants together. The one-page read has five recommendations for having a successful dialogue, including: reviewing dialogue recruitment goals, developing talking points, plan outreach strategies, give coalition members recruiting assignments, and take extra steps to recruit underrepresented groups. The article can be read below and found on Everyday Democracy’s website here.

From Everyday Democracy…

To have effective community conversations, it’s important to get as many different kinds of people involved as possible. A program that involves a broad cross-section of the community is more likely to benefit the community as a whole. And, having a diverse mix of participants helps make for lively and rewarding dialogue. Use these tips to recruit dialogue participants from every part of your community.

Review your recruitment goals
First, the coalition must decide how many and what kinds of people you are trying to reach. Refer back to the recruitment goals generated when you first met. Now, it’s time to get specific about your objectives. Ask yourselves:

– How many people do we need to involve to bring about the changes we are aiming for?
– Who are the different kinds of people we need to recruit to make our program diverse? (Be sure to think about multiple kinds of diversity.
– Why would people from each of these groups want to participate
– What might keep people in each group from participating?
– Are there groups or individuals on our coalition who can reach out to groups not yet involved? If not, who can help to spark their interest?

Develop talking points
This will help keep your message clear and consistent. As a coalition, role-play describing the dialogue to action effort to each other so members become familiar with the messages. The goal is for all members to be comfortable asking friends, family members, co-workers, and community members to participate in the dialogues. They should be able to give a brief overview about the program, talk about what issue they’ll be addressing and why it’s important.

A personal invitation is the best recruiting strategy. There is no substitute! You can do this through face-to-face visits and through phone calls. The coordinator and coalition members can introduce the program to lots of people by speaking at community groups or meetings.

You may want to supplement your in-person invitations with other tools such as flyers, brochures, Facebook announcements, blog posts, or radio interviews. Be creative!

Whenever possible, give people a chance to take part in a sample dialogue. Be sure to allow plenty of time for questions and answers. Explain how the program can help them make a difference on the issue, form new partnerships and relationships, and strengthen their own organization. Capture the excitement that is generated on the spot by having sign-up forms with you.

To ensure your dialogues include a diverse group of people, design your sign-up sheet to collect basic information – such as name, age, occupation, gender, neighborhood, ethnic/racial group – and then use that data to help arrange diverse groups. Make sure you ask people for their preferred times and days for participating in the dialogues.

Give coalition members recruiting assignments
Ask the members of your coalition to reach out to people in their networks. You may even want to set specific recruitment goals for each member.

Think about people who can spread the word to their entire network and tap into their resources. Reach out to leaders of businesses, nonprofits, faith communities, clubs, and other organizations. If community members hear the message from someone they trust, they will be more likely to participate. And, it’ll make recruitment easier because you won’t have to sign up each person individually.

Take extra steps to recruit underrepresented groups
One of the biggest challenges is to recruit people who don’t often get involved in community events. This will take extra work, but without it, you will be missing many important voices in your program.

To reach out to groups you may not be a part of, you have to take time to establish trust. If you can, find a spokesperson or leader in that community that can help spread the word. Sometimes they can be found in unlikely places such as barbershops or restaurants.

About Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy (formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.

Follow on Twitter: @EvDem

Resource Link: www.everyday-democracy.org/tips/how-recruit-dialogue-participants

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