Attracting and engaging fathers is a key measure of a fatherhood program’s success. Effective recruitment requires staff who have flexibility, life experience, and listening skills. They should also have:
- knowledge of the community
- solid presentation skills
- ability to relate to the target population
- ability to act naturally and “be themselves”
- persistence and determination
Although some staff might be recruitment specialists, all program staff must be engaged in this process. All staff members should thoroughly understand the program’s goals and service delivery approach and be able to communicate them to potential recruits or community partners. Below are a few tips to help make the most out of your recruitment efforts.
Tips & Best Practices
- Communicate to fathers on an equal level, rather than from a position of authority. This is especially important during recruitment, where fathers are new to the program and do not know the staff, so respect needs to be earned. Staff should be real and down to earth.
- Ensure that your program is inviting. This could include posting positive pictures of dads, having flexible hours, and providing multiple options on communicating (texts, calls, social media). Also be sure to explain to dads how their involvement can benefit their kids. Make sure to ask exploratory questions in a non-threatening manner, and allow time for men to respond and open up to you.
- Give adequate time to staff to effectively recruit dads. Some programs can recruit using part-time recruiting staff, but many find that recruitment requires more attention.
“We are in the community knocking on doors, standing on the streets, in subway stations, etc.… People know us. Word of mouth kicks in after that. Seventy percent of the people that come through our doors actually met us on the streets. We tell people it is hard, but we show them how to get what they need.”
-James Worthy, Center for Urban Families
“Just let it be known that fathers are welcome and that they will be treated with respect as an equal. Pretty simple.”
- Fatherhood Program Participant, Minnesota Fathers and Families Network.
“You can’t put up a sign that says, ‘Fatherhood Class―Free Food.’ Most of these guys have to be ‘relation shipped’ into these classes.”
-Rozario Slack, Rozario Slack Enterprises
Where should we recruit?
Where you focus recruitment efforts will depend on the types of services you offer. It is a good idea to cast a wide net as some fathers are disconnected from various institutions. You can door-knock, hand out brochures at community centers, and post flyers around your neighborhood. You can also actively engage across multiple social media platforms.
How long should my recruitment pitch be?
As a rule of thumb, brief is better. Develop and practice key talking points you can cover within 1 minute. If fathers are interested, you can get into more detail.
Should I hire recruitment staff? Or is this a job that can be covered by general staff?
During the first year of operation, recruitment can be a full-time job for one or more staff. After the first year, once word of mouth has begun to spread in the community, programs can use a combination of full-time staff or part-time staff or volunteers.