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Hi, we lead a statewide disability caucus and have monthly meetings. We have many members and great meetings but we are having trouble creating ways for volunteers to be engaged and a part of our organization - things seem to fizzle out after meetings because we break down around the implementation part. We are a volunteer caucus and our board is made of elected and appointed people, many are there in title only so only a few of us are doing everything - we want to help folks have opportunities to be involved but need help figuring out how to do that - our emails are only opened by 10% or less folks. We are kicking off a campaign right now for representation and seats at the table. Any advice you can share would be GREATLY appreciated, thank you so much!

Hi Joey, 
Thank you for your question.  The situation you describe is not uncommon in community coalition work. In fact one of the key competencies we've identified for doing community work is "increasing participation and membership." 
In my experience, co-hosting an event has been one way to get a group of individuals functioning as a team. By its nature of being time delineated, a public event provides deadlines that can create a sense of urgency for group members.  A variety of different types of tasks are needed to pull off a public event, which means that people can choose to help out doing things that appeal to them (e.g., some might like to do public relations and promotions, while other may like to organize give-aways/swag, secure talent, or keep schedules).  The downside of focusing on a particular event is that your group can become too activities-based, as opposed to outcomes-driven. 
Another thought for activating participation, if you haven’t already done this, is to divide people into different subcommittees and/or provide them roles based on their substantive interests or skillsets.  Even more granular than roles are designated responsibilities at every meeting.  At one point I co-wrote a manual that included a set of instructions for power sharing within groups, which were based on the idea of making sure that every meeting was co-facilitated by all group members.  These “responsibility logs” can be found on pages 162-175 of this document:   
You might also consider collecting some information from your people on the barriers they face in becoming more involved in the organization's implementation.
There are some resources related to involving volunteers on the CTB. 

Finally, a colleague in the field of Community Psychology once pointed me in the direction of Michael Jacoby Brown’s book entitled Building Powerful Organizations, which can be downloaded for free here:
Ultimately, I have no great answers for you, except to say you are not alone in this struggle.
Keep the faith, 
Sharon M. Wasco, PhD
Ask An Advisor, September 2021

Question Date: Thu, 08/26/2021