Sourcing Participants

Don’t make the mistake of advertising your event and assuming that people will show up. (You run the risk of too many people coming—or, worse, no one coming at all.) Instead, work in advance to actively recruit participants.

Tips for Finding Participants

  • Check for obvious scheduling conflicts (e.g., the Super Bowl, holidays, or community events) before you set a firm date.
  • You may need special permission (e.g., a permission slip) to work with certain populations, especially children.
  • Ask partners, collaborators, and peers to help you advertise and recruit participants.
  • Consider multiple modes of promotion: flyers, personal invitations, social media posts, mailings, etc.
  • Start early. Nail down a date as soon as possible.
  • Ask participants to pre-register. This will help concretize the commitment, and help you with planning details.
  • Maintain a spreadsheet for registrants, including contact information. 
  • Send reminders. A final confirmation email, text, or call in the days before the event is highly recommended.
  • Make sure participants have any advance info and materials they might need, such as directions, tickets, reading lists, or parking instructions.
  • Keep participants’ needs, schedules, and commitments front of mind throughout the planning process.

Planning Prompts

  • How can you create an inclusive event and environment?
  • Will any of your participants have special needs? How can you best support them?
  • Where might you find people who you’d like in your audience? Think about physical locations (shops, clubs, schools) and online spaces (message boards, Facebook announcements, etc.).
  • How can you best leverage your organization’s contacts? What about partner/collaborators’ contacts?
  • Collaborate closely with your coordinating partner, if you have one. These folks typically know your participants better than anyone, so they’ll have special insights that will help throughout the planning process.
  • Who might serve as ambassadors for the event? Community figures like librarians, teachers, and religious leaders are good examples.
  • Can you provide additional support, such as reimbursements or childcare?

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