Last week, in our special report on building capacity for your community coalition, we went over the Community Engagement Model and the different ways we can classify and engage new members and supporters. This week, I want to explore how many members or supporters your coalition needs to be effective.

As a marketing professional, I always start with an objective. In my work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, they wanted to increase the participation and memberships of teens in the clubs by twenty percent. I started by looking at current membership and participation rates of teens. The clubs had 2,300 teen members of which 1,100 visited the clubs less than once a month. A specific goal emerged. I needed to increase teen membership at the clubs by 260 members and get them to use the club more frequently than once a month. I could then build a marketing plan around this specific goal.

When working with prevention coalitions, I take the same approach. When looking at building capacity through digital media outreach, it is necessary to ask, how much capacity? How many members does a coalition need or want? How do we find a specific number of members or supporters as our goal to try and achieve?

When I put these questions to the coalitions I work with, I get a range of answers. The most common response is, “EVERYONE” or “THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY”. Some are a little less ambitious. I have also heard coalitions wanting fifty percent of parents to be members and wanting at least ten percent of the community to participate in their work.

Things become less complicated when I ask them how many members and supporters they currently have. How many members do you have currently attending meetings? How many supporters do you have following you on social media and subscribing to your newsletter? Are there any other ways you measure members and supporters in your coalition?

At this point, the looks of enthusiasm that were chanting, “THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY”, gives way to sheepish glares at the floor. The reality is that most coalitions have a couple hundred followers on social media and another few hundred people subscribed to their newsletter when I initially meet with them. This is a little short of “EVERYONE”. When I dig down a little further and ask how many of these supporters and members are parents, youth or educators (which are the most coveted audiences for most coalitions), the answer is usually very few.

If this sounds like your organization, have no fear. The good news is that when executed correctly, people in your community are really interested in connecting with your organization. Your coalition does important work that your community wants and needs. You just have to connect with them.

Before you can go out and attract new members and supporters, we have to figure out how many new members and supporters we trying to connect with. Next week, we will go through an exercise that reveals your organization’s current number of supporters and members and helps you figure out what your 2018 goals are.

See you next week!

Kris Martin

Kris has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and advertising with a focus on communication strategy for youth and young adults. In those 15 years, Kris has studied how young people communicate, consume information and make decisions.


2 Responses to Digital Prevention – How Many Members Does Your Coalition Actually Need?
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