Community Involvement Spurs New Ideas

“How do we get people involved in our town?” So many of our communities and organizations are suffering from “STP” (same ten people) syndrome. It not only wears them out, we also miss the new people and ideas that can make a real difference.

 

So how do you get people involved? The best way to get someone involved is to ask them – directly and personally. People get involved because they want to meet new people or get to know them better, to have fun, to work on an interest they have, and connect to some higher purpose. But the main reason they get involved is they are asked.

I talked about the success Muriel Krusemark had in Hoffman, Minnesota, a town of 672 (read the article here). She is not shy about getting people involved. As her 16 new families moved into Hoffman over the last two years, she welcomed them with a gift basket and asked what they bring to the community and how they might use those skills to better Hoffman. Muriel made sure they got to use those skills.

Help someone recognize their importance. People are more likely to become involved if they realize how important their involvement is and they have something to offer. Ask them what they want to do, and let them use their skills.

Seriously consider expanding your sphere of volunteers. Can you partner with your neighboring community on something? Building a cross-community action team can help address the real challenge of finding enough people to become involved.

Finally, let go. People often don’t get involved because the “STP” won’t let go of the way things have always been done. Getting people involved does not just mean you’ve found another person to restack the chairs after the meeting, it also means you are developing a new leader.

Listen to their ideas and support their efforts. Give them room to fail, assistance when they do, and demonstrate enough confidence in them that they can try again. Soon, you’ll have so many volunteers you’ll be hard-pressed to use the “STP” gang at all!

Contact Kathie Starkweather, kathies@cfra.org or 402.438.8496 for more information.