If You Plan It, They Will Come...(not necessarily)
Going on a retreat can have a significant on a person's spiritual life. Getting away from the noise, pressures and distractions of everyday life to the quiet contemplation and meditative solitude of a camp or conference experience often has life-changing consequences. You can plan the most amazing program, speakers, worship and activities but if no one comes, no one goes home changed.
At one of InterVarsity's National Staff Conferences, some experienced conference planners shared their insights and strategies on how to move students from "that sounds cool" to "where do I sign up." Below are their recruitment tips for the college students, but these strategies can be altered to apply to a church or organization for your conference at CBS.
Successful conference recruitment strategies can grow your registration numbers.
- Saturate the whole process and each step in prayer, from goal-setting to asking the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of students that have been invited.
- Get commitments to pray for the conference. Ask student leaders to pray daily for the conference and their role in recruiting other students.
- Ask the Lord for a goal. Then ask the Lord to give your chapter that result. Continue to pray for each aspect to that goal.
- Remember to celebrate victories, gifts, and answered prayers with prayers of praise.
- Consider your group's culture, history, other commitments or roadblocks, and momentum (is your group at an upward trend, downward trend, other?)
- Set the goal (How many participants do you want to come to your event?)
- Track goal progression: You, as a staff minister, need to have weekly check-ins.
- Planning space to plan (i.e. When will you plan out your plan?)
- Your plan should begin at least two months before the conference
- Your plan should include: conference dates, registration deadlines, connecting with key student leaders, coaching them in conference goals and recruitment (3 conversations), weekly check-ins, structures pointing to conference, etc.
- Your plan needs to be easily transferrable to other staff and students
Key Students (Group Influencers and Stakeholders)
- Good News: Recruitment does not (and should not) ride solely on you!
- Identify key students to coach in recruiting other students
- Once identified, when will you invite them? How can they own the goal?
- Coach them through a network map.
- You need to coach these key students in:
- Registering for the conference (so they know how to guide others)
- Having 3 conversations with other students or friends.
3 Conversations Checklist
- Head: Does the student know the conference exist? When it is? Where it is?
- Heart: Do they have buy-in? Do they know the vision? Have you coached them in sharing the vision? Do they want to go?
- Hands: Have they signed-up? Do they know how? Is scholarship money needed?
- Identify the ACTUAL deadline for conference registration
- Create an EARLY deadline (at least 3 weeks or a month before actual deadline)
- This is so that your key student leaders/core can have 3 conversations with friends SO THAT these students are ready to register when the actual deadline arrives.
- Put it on your calendar and communicate it to your key students!
- Incentivize with an early bird discount of at least 20% or $50 off the first 20 to register but make sure that registration price after that date more than makes up the total amount discounted!
These tips were developed and compiled by InterVarsity staff Steve Lambert (Lambe1sj@gmail.com) and Justin Weber (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are happy to answer questions and hear your feedback or success stories from applying these principals.
- Identify ALL your chapter or group structures leading up to the conference:
- Small Groups
- Personal Conversations
- Large Groups
- Leadership Meetings
- Outreach Events
- How can these structures point your chapter towards the conference? How can they do it better?
- If they are not currently, what is your next step to change it?