Who would’ve thought a pandemic would hit – so widespread – that it would change the delivery of so many fatherhood programs and services? Could we have imagined a time when delivering fatherhood programs and services wasn’t safe?
This is our reality now.
There’s good news, however. Organizations have overcome the challenges of delivering programs and services virtually.
In this two-part post, I’ll share what National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) has learned from our partners about how to effectively deliver fatherhood programs and services virtually. In this first part, I’ll focus on recruitment and retention strategies. In the second part, I’ll focus on effective facilitation strategies.
If you’ve run a fatherhood program, you know the challenge that recruitment presents. Ironically, many of our partners have discovered that it’s easier to recruit fathers to participate in virtually-delivered fatherhood programs. That’s primarily because dads can participate from their home and at a time that’s more convenient for their schedule. Nevertheless, recruitment still poses challenges. Here’s what some of our partners have done to more effectively recruit dads into virtual programs.
- Reimagine your fatherhood group name. For example, Star Vista calls their group Dads Hangout – A Virtual Fatherhood Learning Community. This name feels less clinical and implies an opportunity to connect with other dads.
- Create and attach flyers to emails. Flyers should include:
- How your program will address the dads’ wants and needs.
- What topics you will cover.
- The cost, if any. If it’s free, make sure to highlight that.
- Which virtual platform you will use (e.g. Zoom, Skype, etc.).
- Date and time.
- Contact information.
- A registration link to provide you their name and contact information.
- Provide incentives. You can still provide incentives to your dads for a virtual session. Some examples include:
- Purchase gift cards online and have them mailed directly to dads. You can even prevent dads from using gift cards on potentially unhealthy or dangerous items. Walmart®, for example, has a card option that restricts the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and lottery tickets.
- Create a welcome kit that includes program materials (e.g. Fathering Handbooks for NFI’s programs), snacks, and apparel with your program’s or organization’s logo.
If you’ve run a fatherhood program, you also know that just because dads will enroll in a program, they won’t necessarily come back or attend regularly. Here are some creative ways that NFI’s partners have used to keep dads coming back to virtually-delivered programs.
- Leave a bag of items at dads’ door before each session. You can include items like: snacks, drinks, and session materials (e.g. paper, pens, next session reminder cards, handouts, etc.).
- Send text reminders. Texting dads is a great way to keep them connected to your program. Provide details for your next session and let them know you look forward to seeing them.
- Use apps that improve communication with your dads. An example is GroupMe, which is a free, private chat room for your small group, accessible on any device. It can be used to:
- Send touchpoints to any dad or to the entire group.
- Send reminders about upcoming sessions.
- Let dads know you missed them when absent.
- Provide resources that support session topics.
- Let dads connect with each other.
Your program’s success rides on whether you can get dads to show up and keep them coming back. Use the tactics above to help them make that commitment.
Be sure to read part 2 of this post here.
Check out our How to Deliver NFI's Programs Virtually and Recruitment and Retention webpages, along with our on-demand Recruitment and Retention Certificate™ training for more tips and training on how to recruit and retain dads.
Are you delivering your fatherhood program virtually?
What are the most challenging recruitment and retention issues you’ve faced with your virtual fatherhood program?