Funder by the Department of Human Services Auspiced by Our Community

Help Sheet

Recruiting members for a new group

So you've got together with a few friends or colleagues, and now you want to set up an organised group.

Some thinking is needed before advertising for new members. Your little circle of friends first needs to get together to discuss the following questions.

After thinking about these questions, the first place to start is with a bit of research.

1. Is there already a group out there that's doing what you want to do?

If so, are their practices, ethics and agendas near enough to yours for you to contemplate joining or partnering? Setting up a fresh group is almost always more work, and should be done only as a last resort. If there's anything that's close to what you want, use it.

There are various ways to locate other groups that may seem similar:

2. Once you've investigated whether or not another group exists that's doing what you want to do, you need to:

Example:

Group Name: Insurance Group

What's the problem/idea/issue/need? People who have been labeled as having a mental illness are discriminated against in many insurance policies, especially travel insurance

What do we want to do about it? Mount a time-limited campaign

Who is eligible, how do we describe eligibility? Anyone who identifies as a consumer or mental health patient.

What are our basic principles?

  • People who have been labeled as having a mental illness have a right to equal treatment in the provision of insurance;
  • People who have been labeled as having a mental illness are the best fitted to say what the problems are in this area;
  • Change can come out of well-organised community protest;
  • You can mount a campaign with limited resources if you have the right skills and these can be learnt;
  • Consumers can and must speak for themselves but they can also build useful political alliances;
  • Personal experience and righteous anger can be a good selling point to the general public.

Once you've collected all the information you need, and talked through potential questions that people might ask you and decided how you'll respond to them, you can use the information you've collected to write an effective advertisement or story publicising your new group and its aims.

Many of the same principles apply to a general campaign or a single-issue group as apply to advertising a local neighbourhood group; however, word of mouth cannot so readily be counted on. Potential members will often be spread across a state or even nationally. Because of this, different strategies for advertising need to be thought about.

Remember that at this stage you're only looking for people to join your new group - nothing more than that. But in order to attract people with a similar interest you will need to have thought out and practiced a good selling line so that people can easily recognise your concerns.

Initial advertising

How you advertise your potential group depends on the following:

  1. The purpose of your proposed group
  2. Whether you have any money
  3. Whether you have a core group of people who are willing to help
  4. Whether your group is a local group or is likely to be geographically dispersed
  5. Whether you're thinking of an diagnosis-specific group or not.

If the group is forming around very local service provision issues it's likely that you won't have to advertise much at all and word of mouth will be all that is needed. Otherwise, these are some useful ideas:

Look for specific services that overlap with your target groups. If, for example, the proposed purpose of the group is to create a drama club that welcomes and embraces people with all sorts of disabilities as well as those who don't have a disability then:

Ongoing advertising

Some groups remain amazingly buoyant and, once established, need very little further advertising to bring new members in - word of mouth is sufficient.

However, because of the nature of people's experience of 'mental illness' the numbers in some groups will go up and down quite a lot.

Not only do the members of the group need to accommodate this fluctuation but there may also need to be further efforts to attract fresh members.

Important things to remember when advertising or getting your ideas into the public domain: