What is the best way to present a community project in a way that will gather followers?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The best way to present a community project in a way that will gather followers involves two principles.  First, there must be something in the community project for the followers you wish to involve, and second, there needs to be provision for some input from the followers.

For better or worse, people tend not to be interested in community projects unless there is something in it for them.  It is of little use to tell people in a very general way that a project is for the good of the whole community.  People need to feel that their own needs will be satisfied somehow.  For example, if you want to start some sort of project involving mentoring the youth in the community, you might explain that this will cause the crime rate to drop and help young people become more responsible members of the community, becoming law-abiding citizens who can contribute to the tax coffers and not drain the community's resources.   If you have a cleanup project in mind, you might explain that the real estate values have dropped as a result of the community's reputation for blight or litter.  A project to get volunteers in the local schools could be supported with a similar argument, since real estate values do depend to some degree on the reputation of a school district.  Whatever your project might be, people must feel it is going to do them some good, in a very tangible way. 

People do not like to go along with a fait accompli. They need to feel that they have had some input into a project, not presented in a high-handed way with a plan in which they have had no say so.  It is better to present a kind of draft of a plan and then ask for help in developing it further.  No matter how good your idea is, it will benefit from the advice of the people in the community, and they are far more likely to feel invested in a plan in which they have had some say. This gives your potential followers a sense of ownership in the plan. Without this, you are far less likely to have any followers at all.  

Remember that you are expecting people to give their resources for your plan in the form of time, money, and energy.  The plan must satisfy some need in the people to whom you are presenting it, and there must be some involvement from them in its making.

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