Understand your Community
1. Reach out to the underserved
Know your audience and the underserved populations that exist within your community.
- Who is your primary demographic?
- Does it change according to the funding source?
- Do you have different programs targeting a variety of demographics or are you focused on one?
- Reach out to your community members who have limited access to your services. It is important to identify not only your consistent supporter base but also the groups that can and would benefit from your services but do not have access to them. It is also important to identify ways that you can alter your programs and services to meet the needs of underserved communities.
Disparaged communities exist across many spectrums. Some of these include:
- Socioeconomic status (SES)
- Geographic region
- Sexual orientation
- Religious affiliation
- Education Levels
- Cancer Type
2. Gather information
In order to develop programs or strategies that are relevant and appropriate for reaching your target population, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there existing organizations that serve this population that we could partner with?
- For example, recruitment of (non-survivor) volunteers for buddy programs or in-school assistance may be accelerated when partnering with existing volunteer or service hour opportunities such as National Honor Society or Faith-based Youth Groups.
- Are there existing reports that would help us better understand our population?
- For example, if you chose to conduct outreach to adolescents and young adults (AYAs) a good starting point would be to review reports and research that have identified the gaps that exist within this population.
- Is there existing infrastructure that would help us to communicate with this population?
- For example, recruitment of AYA survivors may be aided by utilizing existing communication resources such as provider list serves and other support services utilized by this population.
- Are there unique barriers or challenges experienced by this population?
- For example, when recruiting high school students for participation in programs, be mindful of the school calendar and where your programs may fit best and with the least competition from large events and vacations.
- Identify ways to lower or decrease expenses associated with travel, which is a common barrier to participation for this age group.
- Do not schedule programs during traditional work or school hours.
- Does this population have any preferences that would impact your outreach strategy?
- For example, AYAs often do not want their parents involved in their activities.
- AYAs are resistant to programs labeled as 'support groups.' It is easier to accrue participants by marketing your activity rather than the support that comes with it.
3. Engage your community
- Create local organizing committees with members of the community. This can help them feel invested.
- Ask for and listen to feedback from your community on what's needed, what's realistic, what's plausible and how your efforts can be reached.
- Recruit volunteers
- Learn the basic steps you will need for each volunteer role. This includes planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.
- Ensure that volunteers know what they are doing by properly training and explaining the program or project they are working on.
National Cancer Institute Progress Review Groups and Reports:
National Action Plan for Cancer Survivorship
Intercultural Cancer Council: www.iccnetwork.org