Wednesday, February 21, 2018

10+ Event Ideas Your Mpowerment Project Volunteers Can Make Happen


  • Why social Outreach Events?
  • List of event ideas.

Why Social Outreach Events?

In designing the Mpowerment Project (MP), we conducted extensive research into what accounts for high-risk sexual behavior among young gay and bisexual men. This research clearly shows that many young men are not sufficiently motivated by or interested in HIV prevention issues to seek help in changing risky sexual behavior (download Module 1: Overview). We learned, for example, that when community-based organizations offer safer sex/PrEP/HIV testing workshops and other HIV-prevention services, very few young gay and bisexual men attend.

In contrast to the lack of interest in HIV, social concerns are highly motivating for young men. They are very interested in opportunities to meet other men of their own age, and to find places besides bars and nightclubs where they can socialize. Many are seeking a sense of community and therefore desire stronger, more supportive social ties with other young men. It makes more sense to host a fun event than to offer a safer sex workshop. Once they have come together for a Social Outreach Event, the event provides an excellent opportunity to promote safer sex and testing and to recruit them into further involvement with the Project's activities. 
Social concerns are highly motivating for young bisexual/gay men, so attract them to your Project through addressing their social needs.

Take this list and use it as a brainstorming tool for your Core Group to inspire your own weekly events, outings or forums.  

Also, refer to the interests indicated by young men in your own community after conducting your own MP Community Assessment (Module 2 Community Assessment - Knowing Your Community). 

Many of these event ideas came directly from suggestions of young gay and bi men at weekly "Coffee Talk" chat sessions and form discussions generated in M-Groups (Link M-Groups). Keep a running list of topics, ideas, suggestions, concerns and interests around in the house for your Core Group and volunteers to periodically review and from which they may plan.

We suggest you look at the marketing materials other Mpowerment coordinators have used and "borrow and improve" on their event and design ideas. Click me: Mpowerment Flickr.

List of event ideas.
  1. Body image forum (i.e. The Body Beautiful)
  2. Physiological concomitants to homosexuality
  3. How to find true love in a man-eat-man world (relationship forum)
  4. Spirituality and the modern young gay man
  5. Print out any article from our British brothers FS Magazine.  Discuss.
  6. What the world religions have to say about homos and lesbos
  7. Leadership in the gay community. Invite your local gay and bi men and have them come in and talk about the issues 
    Mpowerment YVR | Vancouver BC
  8. Testicular cancer awareness. American Cancer Society
  9. PFLAG moms and their sons' coming out stories. Invite your local chapter
  10. Domestic violence awareness
  11. Geeks Out. Pop and gaming culture. Comic-cons and queer fandom
  12. Our trans brothers and sisters
  13. Homo for the Holidays (how to handle family issues over the holidays)
  14. Time Capsule. Have your volunteers and helpers write messages and leave cultural ephemera to be opened in 10 years. FB link
  15. Queer bike gang. Bicycle repair and maintenance
  16. Queer marketing. Ask participants to pick out advertising from gay-branded magazines and discuss what it says about companies and their marketing research
  17. Yoga (Yogay)
  18. Voter Registration Event (non partisan).
  19. Ask the doctor - gay men's health issues
  20. Making relationships work
  21. Gay parenting  
  22. Queer cinema / Movie night and discussion
  23. TV night and discussion
  24. Gay News from Around the World! - A host brings in the latest news and issues and passes out slips of paper with little snippets of trivia, information and news. See what issues take off.
  25. Creative writing 
  26. Mpowerment teach-back night. Share what you've learned
  27. Knowing Your Limit. Substance use and safety.
  28. Transgender news, events and issues.
  29. Healthy living
  30. Queers in television
  31. People living with HIV and telling their stories
  32. Martial Arts and self defense
    Project LOL, Mpowerment Newark NJ
  33. How to maintain meaningful friendships.  Get-to-Know-You night.
  34. Cosmos tv series. Watch a episode. Is there intelligent life among the stars? Discuss.
  35. Political awareness.  News and events. 
  36. Coping with stress. Resiliency best practices.
  37. Support recovery
  38. Civic participation. Voter registration drive (non partisan)
  39. Sci Fi / Fantasy cos-play night (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Star Wars etc).
  40. Self esteem. 
  41. How to come out
  42. Forgiveness. 
  43. Gay slang and vocabulary 
    DENIM Mpowerment Washington DC
  44. Gay discrimination / out at work
  45. Community elder's stories
  46. Out and about volunteer events. Show up en masse in Project t-shirts to magically help a local non-profit organization.
  47. Car repair and maintenance
  48. The Celluloid Closet. Watch and discuss.
  49. Out and in the armed forces
  50. Invite local mayors, supervisors, congresspersons & LGBT friendly politicos.
  51. History of ACT - UP
  52. Media and the gays. How media portrays gay men. Discuss
  53. The Gays in History (local, national, global)
  54. Gay culture
  55. Poetry and more poetry
  56. Delete Grindr. Join Book Club.
  57. How to party as a verb (alcohol use, drinking and binge drinking awareness)
  58. Marriage Equality (state-by-state and local, national news updates)
  59. Bring in your local college and community college recruiters
  60. HIV medications and the latest treatments
    Vegas Mpowerment Project, NV
  61. Financial advice - How do you spend your gay dollars?
  62. Fashion past, present and future.
  63. Online sex and best practices of meet up / hook up apps
  64. Internet dating
  65. Agency Appreciation Night. Invite your Executive director and/or supervisor of your Project to come in for appreciation and Q and A.
  66. Tweet up. Meet and share social media best practices. Follow and like other Mpowerment Projects.
  67. Pop Up Gay Bar. Show up en masse in Project t-shirts and visit a straight-gay-friendly bar for a night.
  68. Millennial LGBTQ activism. Where we are at, where we are going.
  69. Happy lists.  Everyone create one.
  70. Community involvement 101. Best ways to enact lasting change.
  71. Sex toys 101 
  72. Ones attitudes and how they affect your present and future.
    Q Austin, Mpowerment Texas
  73. Shake that booty. Fitness classes.
  74. ASAP Science night. Watch a video by Mitchell and Gregory the ASAP Science guys 
  75. Sports.
  76. Learning to become a man.  
  77. Your Mpowerment Project. A year in review. (New Year's Event)
  78. Cruising, coupling and communication.
  79. Queer happiness and different ways to obtain it.
  80. State of your Mpowerment Project. Progress report on your community mobilization efforts
  81. Movie night BINGO.
  82. You are what you eat. Potluck and Foodie night!  Eat and be social. 
  83. Talk to your local pride event organizers
  84. Gay medical issues. Bring in a local gay and/or gay doctor.  
    tayf, Beirut Lebannon
  85. Out to Quit. Smoking awareness 
  86. Our lesbian sisters
  87. How to enjoy nature. The National Park Service
  88. Ted Talk discussion night.  Show a short clip.  Discuss.
  89. Humans vs. Zombies (take over a local park)
  90. Gay republicans
  91. The Crafty Queer - Arts and crafts 
  92. Wholesome queer communities; Radical Fairies, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence 
  93. The Religious Right is neither
  94. Atheist & Gay = Gaythiest.  Non-belief in the queer community.
  95. The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness  - and ways to fight it.
  96. Spades Tournament 
  97. Park cruise n' games. Field games at the local park.  (tag football, obstacle courses, sack races, etc.)
  98. Near a national park?  Group tour!
  99. Gay roller skate / Gay ice skate events. 
  100. "Gay men in my 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond" panel discussion. Feature panelists from every decade answering the following questions:
  • Values I would like to instill in the next generation
  • Experiences I found to be most valuable or satisfying
  • My family plans and goals
  • Important decisions I must make
  • How I spend my time
  • How I spend my money
  • New skills and interests
  • My goals for the next ten years 

Being part of a supportive, health-promoting gay community, rather than only having a few gay friends, means that a young man can hear supportive messages about being gay, and about having safer sex and HIV testing from many people. 

Be sure to connect with the Mpowerment Project on Facebook and Twitter.

QUESTIONS?  Making high-impact HIV prevention possible for Community Based Organizations: Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) services available. via University California San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Evaluating Mpowerment Social Outreach Events

Learn from your experience.
It is important to evaluate every Social Outreach Event, whether formally through the use of evaluation measures, or informally by observing who attended and how the event went. Each outreach event can be viewed as a learning process for both the Coordinators and the Core Group.

At the next Core Group meeting following each Social Outreach Event, set aside time to share and process thoughts and feelings about the event. Congratulate each other on what went well, discuss what you learned, and decide how to improve future events.

Here are a couple of key questions to ask:

  • Was publicity for the event effective? (Did it reach enough men? Did it reach men who had never before attended any events? Did you reach all segments that you wanted to of the young gay/ bisexual men’s community?)
  • Was the outreach performance carried out well? (Did it keep the attention of the young men present? Was it interesting or funny? Did it effectively convey a message supportive of PrEP, or staying in treatment if living with HIV?) 
  • Which segments of the young gay/bisexual men’s community did and did not attend the event? (Did it attract the segments that you intended to reach? If not, how could you reach them in the future?) 
  • Which segments of the young gay/bisexual men’s community did and did not attend the event? (Did it attract the segments that you intended to reach? If not, how could you reach them in the future?) 

While Projects often put on Social Outreach Events that are wonderfully successful, all Projects have also put on some events that can hardly be 
classified as highly successful, although in fairness they may not have been failures either. Regardless of the outcome, keep a sense of humor about you and don’t get discouraged. Remember—even if an event does not live up to expectations, it may still have reached a number of men. New men may have been recruited to the Project or to M-groups, and may have formed new, supportive friendships.

Remember this.
Regardless of how successful a Social Outreach Event may be, learn from what may not have worked so well and use that insight in future planning. Consider what went right and what was less successful, and learn from the experiences—and then move on. It is also important to find ways to support Team members when they experience disappointment. However, we have found that it is not helpful to dwell too long on failures, point fingers, or spend inordinate amounts of time complaining about a non- responsive community. In short, for all of the above reasons, it is critically important that the Coordinators and the Core Group evaluate together every medium and large outreach event (as well as occasionally evaluate the effectiveness of a Project’s smaller, ongoing events). 

Record every event.

The Mpowerment Project Social Outreach Event Evaluation Form will be useful in guiding the Core Group discussion about each event (See Module 12: Evaluation, Figure 12.8 for the Social Outreach Event Evaluation Form.). Following the discussion, we suggest that the Project Coordinator complete a written copy of the form to serve as a record of the Project’s activities. In addition, with the form keep copies of all materials used for the event, including flyers, posters, ads, camera-ready art, photos, and so forth. Many Projects have found that making a scrapbook of all this material serves as an exciting and comprehensive visual history for new Project participants, implementing agency staff, funders, and future Coordinators. Many Projects also use their Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts to upload photos of recent events, in effect maintaining an on-line scrapbook.

Keeping complete records is important in providing documentation of Project activities. It also prevents the duplication of efforts in case an event is repeated or any of the materials are needed for future events. In addition, records help Project volunteers learn from the experiences of past participants. For more information on Project evaluation, see Module 12: Evaluation.

MORE:  2 simple ways to evaluate Social Outreach Events: Mpowerment Best practices.

BONUS:  Mpowerment Projects share event materials

DYK. The Mpowerment manual is free! Module 7 is Outreach - Social Events and the Outreach Team.  Planning forms and sample calendars, MORE!   

Be sure to connect with the Mpowerment Project on Facebook and Twitter.

QUESTIONS?  Making high-impact HIV prevention possible for Community Based Organizations: Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) services available. via University California San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Core Group Recruitment and Retention. Mpowerment Best Practices.

via The Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center (GCMC) social media: ( FB / Instagram / twitter / website

GCMC serves: Young gay and bisexual men of color ages 13-29.

Build Trust among Project Staff, Core Group and volunteers

I have found that community trust in our Mpowerment Project brand is really important. It can be challenging yet not impossible to overcome a lack of trust among Project participants – especially when a Project experiences high staff turn-over in a short amount of time. The end result is inconsistent Core Group meetings and Outreach Events. If staff turn-over is happening with your Mpowerment Project, then a priority will be to spend time to make sure this trust is re-established among Core Group and volunteers. Have Core Group and volunteers focus on issues that they can easily give input on.  For example, everyone can have share feedback about the turn-out at recent Mpowerment Project events.

Begin by consistently de-briefing after every Outreach Event:

  • How many guys did we really talk to about our Project? 
  • Are volunteers sharing posts and inviting their friends to our events online? 
  • Did we do enough regarding publicity?  
  • Do these things affect turn-out?

Authenticity in community mobilization counts! Projects need to meet young adult bisexual and gay people of color (POC) where they are. Peer to peer recruitment is best. IT’S SO EFFECTIVE!

Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center
We prioritize integrating peer to peer recruitment.  Inviting someone to GCMC should be an activity that core group members do when the opportunity presents itself. You can make this fun and even incentivize it.
Make it a competition. Create a monthly Leader Board that recognizes and captures the efforts of volunteers. Award a cash prize or trophy that change hands every month.

To track Core Group and Volunteer efforts, use an Informal Engagement and Formal Engagement contact sheetCategories can include giving invites to GCMC events or PrEP and testing services. Volunteer efforts count whether the invites are in-person or by sharing Mpowerment Project materials information online.
Core Group Meetings should be peer led. Facilitators provide structure by creating the agenda and helping make sure the Core Group stays on topic. People feel empowered when they feel productive . I like to think the facilitator’s main job is to help the Core Group be successful. 
Create a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) regarding Project events.

Have coordinators post pictures with fun and energetic captions on Project social media before, during, and after events. Make sure to tag folks who are agreeable! I would recommend using FB Boost using fun group pictures that includes contact information and how to get involved. Even better, have participants post their own pictures including your Mpowerment Project information.

Use Project Social Media to let participants know how to get involved.
For materials that promote GCMC events, sex+, gay+, & culturally relevant graphics are best to attract interest.  Also, we use our own GCMC participants in materials. 
Social media / Apps like:  Jack’d, GRINDR, I talked to one guy for 3 months before he finally came into one of our events and he will be a future CORE GROUP member. Being invested in those conversations and staying with social media really pays off. 
At GCMC we keep track of Core Member’s conversation when they talk about our program by using the Informal Engagement and Formal Engagement contact sheet. Core Group members do share the names of peers they have talked to. Recruitment is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the more new people will show up at your events.  Be active, be sure you are regularly getting out where YMSM are congregating and make your presence known.

RELATED: Community mobilization and HIV prevention for young adult Black gay and bisexual men. Find our implementation documents here.

Core Group Retention

“HIV prevention should be about the whole person.” There are million different reasons why people come to GCMC. We are not just there to help empower them to make healthier sexual decisions but also to grow as individuals to help empower their peers. 

At GCMC our guys need more than just HIV prevention. They need help with resumes, they need help with college applications, they need housing resources, and career advice just to name a few. Staff help with these resources. It is in your program's interest to understand who is coming through your doors. After all Mpowerment is High Impact Prevention. 

Our mentoring workshop
FOUR retention best practices:

Perfect your 5 minute conversations inside and outside the program with participants. Ask them about college, career goals, and relationships, life - just about anything. Ask how participants are doing and follow up with them.
Sample conversation:
GCMC: Hey James (participant) how was your weekend?
James: It was alright. I watched Netflix.
GCMC: Oh cool! What shows are you currently watching?
James: Grace and Frankie.
GCMC: I love that show. Do you remember when Frankie . . .
James: I love Frankie's commitment. My favorite Frankie moment is . . . 

Retention = Relationship Building. Make sure your Mpowerment Project is providing opportunities for guys to get to know each other. Building friendships is essential. If you have one, eject the ‘clients’ and ‘clinical’ mindset. 
Core Group members STAY because of the relationships they build with staff and other participants. Building a sense of family is important.
Some young gay men are known for being catty, shady and not bringing enough glitter. Bring the glitter.

Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center (GCMC)

HIVPrevention is not just condoms/PrEP or safer sex education, it’s also resume development, linking participants to local resources, creating cultural opportunities. When your Mpowerment program is actively creating and/or linking participants to resources in the community, it’s easier to retain and recruit.
Providing opportunities to core group members to develop their leadership is important. We assign core group members as event leads” on Project outreach events. This creates a sense of pride and accountability.

Event reminders.
Use Texting services, email, FB events. FB private massager. If you are using Facebook make sure to comment on the event page. Even make calls.

After core group meetings, make sure to remind folks about upcoming events.
Additional Tips
Safe space thoughts. Leaving ‘attitude’ at the door. Have fun and let go and be who you are. Coordinators let go and let CORE GROUP members find success. 

When using Project Social Media be consistent; fans and followers value that. Even if your events ‘fail’ always take photos of the two guys who showed up and post them, posting photos creates interest and FOMO (see above).

GCMC is a Project of Equitas Health Ohio. (website)

Be sure to connect with the Mpowerment Project on Facebook and Twitter.

QUESTIONS?  Making high-impact HIV prevention possible for Community Based Organizations: Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) services available. via University California San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.