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.