Recruitment and Membership
Coalitions often consist of dedicated individuals who share a common purpose and volunteer their time and skills to better their communities.
The relationship between a coalition and its members should be mutually beneficial—the coalition receives support and the individual benefits from his or her work, for example by developing personal or professional skills and networks.
Identify the Right Community Partners
Identifying allies and key stakeholders—organizations and individuals who support tobacco control—is important in building a tobacco-free community and critical to a coalition’s success. Successful coalitions strive to include people who can represent all the different areas in their community including members from:
- Government agencies
- Small and large businesses
- Faith organizations
- Civic associations
- Educational institutions
- Private groups
A diverse tobacco control coalition finds its strength in members who:
- Broaden coalition knowledge about existing problems related to tobacco
- Bring balance to decision making and planning
- Reduce preconceptions about cultures and tobacco control allies
- Increase the impact and range of coalition efforts
- Infuse the coalition with new ideas and energy
- Ensure the tobacco control movement is responsive to the community
- Support social change as a primary force in tobacco control success
Tips for Recruiting Members
Recruiting new members is important to building and maintaining your coalition. Here are some tips to successfully recruit members:
Coalition membership should reflect your community, including parents, business owners, political figures, youth, adults, and others. Consider recruiting outside of the “usual healthcare suspects” to include groups such as:
- State medical organizations or student nursing society
- Prenatal educators
- Behavioral health providers
- Law enforcement
Make sure the interests of priority populations are represented in your coalition membership. This is critical to working on projects that strive to reduce tobacco-related disparities. In South Dakota, priority populations include:
- American Indians
- Youth and young adults
- Low-income (SES) populations and Medicaid clients
- Pregnant and postpartum women
- Behavioral health and substance abuse populations
Recruit specific people to fulfill specific needs. The coalition will naturally have different needs as projects evolve. For example, if the coalition needs someone with evaluation experience to help conduct an evaluation on a specific project, you may want to recruit someone with those skills. As an added bonus, specific recruitment could lead to ongoing involvement.
Create a simple “pitch” for joining that describes your coalition’s mission and goals. Explain what the coalition will accomplish in the community. Think about how you will adjust the pitch to communicate with different kinds of community members or groups who have different priorities.
Be prepared to discuss the benefits of joining. In addition to achieving goals to improve the health of your community, consider what value membership will have to the person you are recruiting—perhaps a chance to meet new people, further develop a skill, or increase their organization’s visibility in the community.
Tips for Keeping Members
It also takes some effort to ensure that coalition members remain engaged in the coalition work. Here are some tips for retaining coalition members:
Offer a new member training or orientation to make a good impression, create a welcoming environment, and provide background on the coalition and tobacco control terminology. Providing mentors to help new members learn about the coalition and tobacco control can also be helpful.
Check out the Tobacco Control Orientation self-guided course. It’s jam-packed with info on the evolution of tobacco control, devastating impact of tobacco use and high impact strategies to reduce tobacco/vape damage and use.
Be flexible. Be aware of members’ lives and needs outside the coalition and adjust to these needs. For example, perhaps you can provide childcare at coalition meetings, rotate meeting times and locations, or use video or tele-conferencing to engage those who cannot meet in person.
Hold meaningful coalition meetings. Collaboration and team building are important for driving community initiatives and coalition engagement, so it’s important that meetings are focused and agenda items are relevant to all coalition members. Download a Coalition Meeting Agenda Template for some ideas on how to organize your coalition meetings.
Provide opportunities that are interesting and beneficial to the members, for example, leadership and other skill development. Delegating responsibilities based on members’ skills and interests gives them meaningful roles while also reducing the workload on coalition staff. Check out an example Coalition Member Volunteer Description for ideas.
Have a follow-up plan. Have processes in place to follow up with members – and make sure to stick to it! This fosters accountability for action steps and provides an opportunity to check in about factors that encourage (or are barriers to) participation.
Know that attrition is normal. It is natural to have an ebb and flow in individuals’ level of involvement. Some will move on entirely—and that’s okay!
Explore the importance of evaluation and collecting data for your community.