IFAS Community Development: Empowering Your Community, Stage 4, Recruitment 1 M. A. Brennan Muthusami Kumaran, Michael Spranger, and Randall Cantrell 2 This paper is part of a series of discussions on community development. This series includes specialized papers on civic engagement, community action, and other topics important to the developm ent of community. Introduction The previous three stages of community action developed the group structure and focused plans for change. In the fourth stage community action efforts are advanced through Recruitment (Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2005; Marcus Brennan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell 20 13 ; Brennan Regan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell, 20 13 ; Brennan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell, 20 13 b). While small scale recruitment efforts may have emerged earlier during the initial formation of the group (stages 1 and 2) the recruitment in stage four represents a clear and focused process of identifying and mobilizing local activists who can signif icantly contribute to community action efforts. However, this stage must be open to the entire community and representative of all of its groups. While the members of the community action group may be familiar with individuals they believe to b e capable of leading community action, they are most likely to be unaware of various other individuals who can contribute to an even greater extent. The process of recruitment serves to bring in new voices, skills, and experiences and to prove to the community that participation from all is wanted and encouraged. Recruitment Facilitating the recruitment and the active involvement of local residents in community development efforts often can be time consuming and difficult. And can become even more problematic when a broad and representative grouping of the local population is sought. However, in order to build community support, involvement, and interaction, all local residents should at least ha ve the opportunity to actively contribute. While it is often unrealistic to expect total participation, all efforts must be made to actively and routinely reach out to members of the diverse groups that make up the community. The recruitment phase originates from the effort of the original group of active res idents, council, or planning committee to mobilize and plan for action (see stage 1,2, and 3) (Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2005; Brennan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell, 20 13 ; Marcus Brennan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell, 20 13 ; Brennan Regan, Kumaran, Spranger and Cantrell 20 13 ). Through the initial stages, human and other resources are mobilized, cohesion develops, leadership is enhanced/developed, and the actions of various groups are focus ed to achieve maximum impact. At this point in the action process, a committed and active force of local residents is recruited to carry forth action plans. Recruitment in Your Cooperative Extension Work The recruitment stage can be successfully implemented by taking a variety of steps. All of these build upon the framework established in the earlier stages and provide a wide range of opportunities for increasing awareness and drawing others into the action process. 1. Holding a formal community wide gathering of residents Holding a community meeting to inform local residents of the group's vision, goals, and strategies for improving local life is a useful way to create awareness and to provide opportunities for involvement. In order for this meeting to reach a wide audience, all means availabl e should be used to promote, market, and generally encourage attendance from all community members. Countless ways exist to do this, such as advertising in local newspaper s newsletters, flyers, church bulletins, and public announcements through politician s, leaders, organizers, and religious representatives. Formal invitations should be extended to all resident groups, coalitions, and organizations. Once again, it is vital that no individual or group feels alienated, uninvited, or unwelcome. If such condit ions emerge, the end results are likely to have disastrous effects on community action efforts. 2. Present a focused overview of the action efforts Once convened this diverse group should be informed of the planning and actions taken to da te by the original group of participants and organizers. Included would be introductions, presentations describing the background of organizers, and a summary of the events that have brought them together. Also included would be a presentation of the missi on statement, goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving change. For all of these items, it is vital that the process and activities leading up to this point be fully presented and explained in detail to all interested parties. This level of communication serves to enlighten future participants as to the scope of problems (as supported with data accumulated in stages 1 through 3), as well as to legitimize the community action efforts by showing that all efforts have been developed in an unbiased and systematic way.
3. Provide opportunities for general public feedback and contribution Those presenting community action efforts are provided with a remarkable opportunity to receive feedback from other local residents that can actively co ntribute to the formation of goals and objectives. This meeting also provides an opportunity to gauge the general public's reactions to proposed community action efforts. The acceptance or rejection of these efforts can be a valuable tool in the program a nd policy development for the organization. It is therefore vital that invited participants have extensive opportunities for voicing questions or concerns and to provide various forms of feedback. It is also an opportunity to measure the group's reaction t o proposal plans of actions and to instigate group discussions. During this meeting and discussion, all efforts should be made to promote the program to attendees and to encour age their active participation. This can take several forms, depending on the po pulation. Activities such as formal meetings, focus groups, group interviews, and other tactics can be used to measure public interest and support, as well as to address needs t hat are not otherwise common knowledge. 4. Formal initiation for participation and active involvement All of the a forementioned steps culminate in an opportunity to formally invite all local residents to be actively involved in community action efforts. This opportunity cannot be overstated, and further highlights the importance of the previous steps in the community action process. This is the single best opportunity to garner public support and to recruit activists. At this point, partici pants can be asked to self select into subgroups or to sign up to participate in the general program. Conc l u sion This stage is essential in that it provides the basis for developing an active, enthusiastic, and informed group of activists These are the troops that will carry out the active phase of community development. These informed and active citizens will also aid in spreading awareness of issues and serve to active ly involve other residents Those convened during the recruitment stage will lead the next phase, Implementation References and Useful Reading Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, M. Spranger and R. Cantrell. 2013 The Importance of Local Community Action in Shaping Development EDIS Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication n umber: FCS 9209. Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and M. Spranger. 2013 Empowering Your Community: Stage 3, Goal Setting and Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS 9213. Brennan, M. A., C. Regan, M. Kumaran, M. Sp r a Empowering Your Community: Stage 2, Organization Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service, Insti tute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS 9212. Luloff, A.E., and J. Bridger. 2003. Community Agency and Local Development. Pp. 203 213 in, Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty First Century edited by D. Brown and L. Swanson University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Marcus, J., M.A. Brennan, M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and EDIS. Gainesville, FL: Cooperative Extension Service Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication number: FCS 9210. Theodori. G. 2004. Preparing for the Future: A Guide to Community Based Planning College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension Service. Rural Sociology. 35 (1): 54 68. Wilkinson, K.P. 1991. The community in rural America New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1991. Suggested Websites
The Asset Based Community Development Institute. www.abcdinstitute.org The Community Development Society. http://www.comm dev.org/ Community Resource Group. http://www.crg.org/ Civic Practices Network http://www.cpn.org/ International Association for Community Development. http://www.iacdglobal.org/ Mapping the Assets of Your Community: A Key Component for Building Local Capacity http://srdc.msstate.edu/trainings/ asset_mapping/ Footnotes 1. This document is FCS9229, one of a series of publications on Community Development from the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First Published: September 2005. Revised: August 2013 Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu 2. Mark A. Brennan, former Assistant Professor of Community Development, Muthusami Kumaran, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management and Community Organizations, Michael Spranger, Professor and Extension Specialist for Community Development, and Randall Cantrell, Assi s tant Professor and Extension Specialist for Housing and Community Development, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611.