A Step-by-Step Guide by Lee Smith, Social Action Vice President, NFTY – Mid-Atlantic Region
As Jewish teens who are working to strengthen the Reform Movement, we place a lot of emphasis on recruitment for youth group events. While we recognize that Temple Youth Group (TYG) membership is a very important part of what makes NFTY so special, we don’t always carry out event recruitment in the most effective way possible. We have specific strategies and algorithms for recruitment over social media, but training for in-person recruitment is generally uncharted territory. When I became the president of Temple Rodef Shalom Temple Youth (TRSTY) in Falls Church, Virginia I wanted to make sure my youth group board was thoroughly trained on how to effectively talk (in-person) to potential participants.
At our board retreat, I shared what I learned from Noah Kline (former NFTY – Mid Atlantic Region Western Membership Vice President) to my TRSTY board members. Using these tactics, we got 90 people to sign up for our Hanukkah party, “The Matzah Ball.” Here are the tips I shared with the board that made recruitment such a huge success:
1. Prepare a 30 second elevator pitch on what your youth group is all about, why you enjoy it, and ways to get involved. Physically practice the speech so you’re comfortable and confident with what you’re saying.
2. Tailor your pitch to the person you are talking to. Using what you already know about them, show how your youth group’s variety of experiences fits their interests.
3. Be personal and specific. Use your own personal stories to build a connection with them.
4. Your pitch should reflect the emotions that you want someone to feel when they think about your youth group. Don’t be shy about letting your enthusiasm show! People are drawn to others who are smiley, excited, and energetic.
5. Talk with the potential participant about the people you would connect them with at your event. Be sure to personally make the introduction when they arrive – it will help them feel immediately welcomed.
6. Guarantee that you will hang out with the participant if they come.
7. Studies show that it takes three points of contact to get young voters to turn out. The same thing can be applied here – after the initial conversation, follow up with potential participants twice more before the event. Right after the initial interaction, send them the necessary electronic information. Then, right before the event, reach back out to tell them that you are excited to see them there.
8. Persistence is key. Send text reminders to potential attendees who expressed interest during your initial conversation. Use your best judgement on the right frequency, but don’t stop contacting them until you see their name on the registration list.