CO[LO]R[E]S - part 2

How can you motivate your target audience to get involved with your project?

If you are constantly scratching your head asking why people keep telling you that your project sounds great, and super cool, but aren’t participating, then you probably have a motivation problem. Perhaps not on your end, but motivating people on the other end is arguably even harder to do, since you can’t control what they are doing. Planning a project is hard work, but as a project planner, you must be prepared to take on the bulk of the work. If the tasks you are asking people to do for your project are too large, no one will want to participate for fear of disappointment, not enough of a positive outcome, or just the simple fact that they do not have the time to complete such a large task. Motivation itself comes from many different sources, whether it is the enjoyment of the project, the ease of it, or the way it is being facilitated.

Making your project accessible to everyone is key. Perhaps there are people who do want to take on a larger role in the project. That’s great, but it is important to set out expectations and have a goal in mind. A great way to ensure this follow-through is to set up goals using the SMART goal-setting system. This acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Once you know the jist of your project, using these five categories will pull the loose ends of your project together, and will give you a much greater chance of success.

Another way to use the SMART tool is by placing yourself on the opposite end and answering it from the perspective of the audience you are trying to reach. For example, is the task you are asking them to do realistic? If you are asking people to capture their faces when jumping out of a plane, unless you are working with a team of professional skydivers, this probably is not realistic. But if you are asking people to take a picture of their drive to school, you will have higher success rate.

Perhaps the most important of the letters is the T. It does come last, but it will absolutely ensure the success of your project, and that it doesn’t get forgotten. It needs to be done correctly and with actual effort. Having a concrete timeline of when you as the organizer want certain things done is key to having it actually happen. Yes there is still a possibility it will not, but you are much more likely to hold yourself accountable in this situation. Better yet, if you are working with a team, or you share your timeline with someone, they can hold you accountable, and not only your internal stress will get to you, but so will the fear of disappointing someone else.

The second thing you will want to ensure when creating a project, specifically in a volunteer organization like CISV is that of enjoyment. No one is being paid to do this. No one is receiving compensation, and unfortunately the gains you will get from carrying out a project are purely like picking the ripest strawberry of the bunch – all to make you smile, and give you a feeling of accomplishment. Yes, people do want to participate, and yes people are excited to help you with your project but if it is not fun, the motivation they had when you opened your mouth to tell them about it has completely plummeted. So, when you are devising your project plan, ask yourself, if someone else had come up with this project, would I want to be someone participating, instead of planning? If not, then it is time to go back to the drawing board to rethink how you can make it more fun for those you are trying to reach. If it is something you would have liked to participate in, had you not been the one to invent it, than great, keep doing what you’re doing, and use other tools to keep that motivation going.

Using tools you can control are a great way to keep motivation high. For example, social media, which everyone uses for umpteen hours a day, is one of the best tools (project dependent, of course) you have, literally at your fingertips. Using a platform that will reach your target audience best could be anything from a specific Facebook page or group, to Twitter or Instagram account, or even videos and blog posts. It is up to you to decide your method of promotion, but make sure you keep it frequent, otherwise by the time it slips to the bottom of the news feed, it will have also slipped out of their minds.

So here are three things that can help motivate your audience, which is arguably one of the hardest parts of any project planning and implementation. Ensure that it is well planned from the beginning making it simple for people to participate in. Make it fun! No one has an obligation to participate, and therefore will not want to if they do not find joy in it (because really, why should they?). And finally, use promotion to the best of your abilities. Don’t smother your audience, but make sure they do not forget you either. Projects should not scare you! They can be accomplished by breaking them down, and in the end, the feeling of accomplishment, and the outcome of the project will benefit everyone!

-Mercedes (CAN)