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Publication #FCS9229

IFAS Community Development: Stage 4 of Empowering Your Community–Recruitment1

Mark Brennan, Muthusami Kumaran, Randall Cantrell, Michael Spranger 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 development 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, et al., 2014). While small-scale recruitment efforts may have emerged during the initial formation of the group (stages 1 and 2), the recruitment in the fourth stage represents a clear and focused process of identifying and mobilizing local activists who can significantly contribute to community action efforts. However, this stage must be open to the entire community and representative of all of its groups. While community action group members may be familiar with individuals believed to be capable of leading community action, they are most likely unaware of others 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. It can also 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 have 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 residents, council, or planning committee to mobilize and plan for action (see stage 1, 2, and 3) (Wilkinson, 1991; Theodori, 2005; Brennan, et al., 2014; Marcus, et al., 2013). Through the initial stages, human and other resources mobilize, cohesion develops, leadership enhances/develops, and the various groups’ actions focus to achieve maximum impact. At this point in the action process, a committed and active force of local residents is recruited to carry action plans forward.

Recruitment in Your Extension Work

The recruitment stage can be successfully implemented by taking a variety of steps. All of these steps 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 available should be used to promote, market, and generally encourage attendance from all community members. Countless ways exist to do this, such as advertising in the local newspaper, newsletters, flyers, and church bulletins, using social media websites, and making public announcements through politicians, 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 conditions 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 date by the original group of participants and organizers. This would include introductions, presentations describing the background of organizers, and a summary of the events that have brought them together. It would also include a presentation of the mission statement, goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving change. For all of these items, it is vital the process and activities leading up to this point are fully presented and explained in detail to all interested parties. This level of communication serves to enlighten future participants to the scope of problems (as supported with data accumulated in stages 1–3) and 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 who can actively contribute to the goal and objective formation. 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 and 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 to 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 encourage their active participation. This can take several forms, depending on the population. 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 that are not otherwise common knowledge.

4. Formal initiation for participation and active involvement

All of the previously mentioned 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 it 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, participants can be asked to self-select into subgroups or to sign up to participate in the general program.

Conculsion

This stage is essential because 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 bring other residents into active involvement. Those brought together during the recruitment stage will lead the next phase, Implementation.

References and Useful Reading

This stage is essential because 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 bring other residents into active involvement. Those brought together during the recruitment stage will lead the next phase, Implementation.

References and Useful Reading

Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, M. Spranger and R. Cantrell. 2014. The Importance of Local Community Action in Shaping Development. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy729

Brennan, M. A., M. Kumaran, R. Cantrell, and M. Spranger. 2013. Empowering Your Community: Stage 3, Goal Setting and Strategy Development. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy764

Brennan, M. A., C. Regan, M. Kumaran, M. Spranger and R. Cantrell. 2014 Empowering Your Community: Stage 2, Organization of Sponsorship. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy763

Green, G.P. and A. Haines. 2012. Asset Building and Community Development. (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press, Inc.

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 M. Spranger. 2014. Empowering Your Community: Stage 1, Initiation. EDIS. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy740

Theodori. G. 2004. Preparing for the Future: A Guide to Community Based Planning. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension Service.

Wilkinson, K. 1970. “Phases and roles in community action.” Rural Sociology. 35 (1): 54-68.

Wilkinson, K.P. 1991. The community in rural America. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Suggested Web Sites

Community Development Institute East http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/depts/cewd/crd

The Community Development Society http://www.comm-dev.org/

Community Resource Group http://www.crg.org/

Civic Practices Network http://www.cpn.org/

Grass-roots.org http://www.grassroots.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/educurricula/

Southern Rural Development Center http://srdc.msstate.edu

Sustainable Development Communication Network http://www.sdgateway.net

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS9229, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2005. Revised January 2014. Reviewed January 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Mark A. Brennan, PhD, former faculty member, assistant professor; Muthusami Kumaran, PhD, assistant professor, Randall Cantrell, PhD, assistant professor; and Michael Spranger, PhD, professor; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.