Monday, April 28, 2014

Mpowerment YVR Core Group Structure | How to organize a Core Group. Vancouver Mpowerment best practices

In order to have an Mpowerment Project that can reach broadly into diverse segments of the young gay/bisexual men’s community, it is important that the Core Group’s composition reflects the Project’s target population.  An effective Core Group should strive to include many men from each of the major segments of young gay/bisexual men that exist in the community.
Here are a few organizing best practices from Mpowerment YVR Vancouver BC.

MpowermentYVR website | MpowermentYVR on Facebook | @MpowermentYVRMpowerment YVR is a Program of YouthCO.

Recruitment and evaluation:  Interested Core Group (CG) members fill out an application form and schedule a meeting with the YVR coordinators for a introductory 20-minute session. During the session they review the application together and talk about volunteer opportunities with YVR. This session is an opportunity to have both the CG member and the coordinators be on the same page. At this meeting, they might be assigned a team (see below). Together they set participation goals for the next three months. After three months a “3-month” evaluation form is filled out and a evaluation session is scheduled with the YVR coordinators.

The YVR Core Group (CG) meets once a week. The coordinators construct an agenda for the CG members to review. The agenda is sent out to Core members on a Friday. By Monday Core members can review the agenda and let the coordinators know if they will be attending the Core Group meeting.

Advertise your Core Group
Core Group Agenda: The agenda basic structure opens with a check-in and group energizer. Next is a weekly health promotional segment (this changes each week and has included topics like the latest bio-medical advancements, Criminalization of HIV, etc). The health promotional takes about 20 minutes.

Teams: During Core Group, time is given for teams to meet, consider their agendas and report back to the larger group. These teams are given broad goals and the teams come up with specifics on how to achieve them. Each team has team leaders to help facilitate discussion.
  • Outreach team - Spreads fun and engaging messages about safer sex in the bars and at YVR events.
  • Engagement team - Men here build up relationships among members, as well as recruit men to M-Groups (Unmask).
  • Graphic design team - They are aware of timelines to produce and get materials about upcoming events out to the young men’s community.
  • Social Media team – creates and implements social media strategies for each social event and M-Group (Unmask) and Mpowerment project itself.

At the end of each 3 month block, the Core Group brainstorm ideas for events for the following 3 months. Taking into account, which groups of men are NOT being reached and how can the events be more inclusive of that demographic. The facilitator will have a calendar printed out for the Core Group members and working around other events in the city the group decides which events would be best suited for certain times of the year. Once the brainstorm has finished, the group votes on the events. Once the events are chosen, the Core Group members volunteer themselves as Leaders of a particular event, having 2 Core Group members heading up an event.

Follow us @MpowermentYVR 

Voting Method and Planning

The Core Group created a democratic way of choosing events. The group brainstorms as many event ideas as possible, from large, medium and small event ideas. Then core group member gets three votes each. The facilitator goes through each event and core group members raise their hands to vote, then tally the votes and find which events are the most popular within the group.

The CG and facilitator then choose rough dates when each event could be held. What YVR has found is by spreading out the large and medium events and keeping the smaller events (free) more frequent, allows for more engagement. The voting method is then used to schedule the events. Core Group members have one vote and vote which date and time they prefer. Highest votes wins.

Events are tentatively placed on a calendar. Core Group members and Coordinators spread the events out so that an event will happen one week and an M-Group will occur the week after and so forth. YVR has found that our M-Groups are most popular when directly recruited from an event the previous week. Each month generally two events and two M-Group evenings are scheduled.

RELATED:  The Mpowerment Project: The Mu Crew Dayton OH Core Group best practices 

Module 5 Core Group and other Volunteers is a free download when you register at 

Module 5 Objectives

To familiarize you with the decision-making body of the Project, the Core Group, as well as other volunteers who are not part of the Core Group. Both the Core Group and the non-Core Group volunteers are essential Core Elements of the Mpowerment Project.

What you’ll find in the Appendix to Module 5:
  • Sample Core Group agendas for the first 4 meetings Sample Volunteer Interest Sheets
  • Sample Icebreaker Exercises
  • Facilitation Skills-Building Tips
  • Brainstorming Skills-Building Tips
  • Conflict Management Skills-Building Tips
  • Sample Core Group Agendas for established Core Groups Sample Core Group Planning “Check List” 

Monday, April 21, 2014

7 easy ways to increase 'likes' on your Mpowerment Project Fan Page

Getting More Likes or "How the Fuse Mpowerment Project achieved 200 FB likes in just two weeks."

by Jonathan Joyner @JonathanJoyner Mpowerment Coordinator FUSE

@DFWfuse Mpowerment Dallas TX
Fuse obtained 1553 FB 'likes' as of 9.25.13
Fuse obtained 2,090 'likes' as of 12.16.13

1) Make it simple. Keep all your links the same when possible. For example, FUSE is known as DFWFUSE in their URL, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and Foursquare location. One name is easy to keep track of. Also, look into reserving your project's name every time a new social media network pops up. The site can tell you quickly if your name is taken.

2) Put it out there. It's simple, but you'll be surprised how often putting social media on materials gets overlooked. And I don't mean just put the Facebook "F" or Twitter bird on your materials (unless it's digital and it hyperlinks to your social media page), I mean, put the URL or username. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.

@DFWfuse Mpowerment Dallas TX
3) Ask. This is another simple trick. Ask your members/volunteers to like your page and ask their friends to like your page too. Do it when you're doing outreach. Nearly everybody has a smartphone and a Facebook account, so ask them to like to.

4) Don't just give it way. Besides being good life advice, this applies to program materials too. Project swag like shirts, backpacks, Chapstick, and sunglasses are popular with the Project participants. Think about how much every item you give away costs you and your agency. Get some bang for your buck. Before you give up your goods, get something in return whether it be contact information, a Facebook like or a tweet.

FUSE SWAG (they also offer branded tees and chapstick)
5) Set goals. First, see where your project ranks and decide where you'd like it to be. It helps to check out similar projects as a barometer. Make smaller goals on your way to your larger goal.

6) Share. You may not have an interest in social media, but your members do. If you don't have the luxury of assigning the task to an assistant coordinator, give the task and password with some socially savvy core group members. Just make sure to monitor the account to make sure it's being updated regularly and for content.

7) Automate. Link everything to your Twitter. If you make a new Facebook post, upload a YouTube video, share an Instagram photo, make it a tweet. Just make sure it's a one way street. Your Facebook page should probably only be updated 3 or 4 times a week. The worst thing you can do is fatigue your audience with unnecessary updates. This brings us to...

Content Writing Rules

Be regular. Make sure that you're updating regularly. Each project is different, but typically Facebook activity is most popular during business hours Monday through Friday.

Relevant posts. Facebook is the place where you share your brand. It's fine to share cool videos and images every now and then, but the majority of the content on your Facebook fan page, should be about you. Remember you're there to push your project and your brand, not somebody else's.

Take photos -  or it didn't happen!  Fact 1: you throw awesomesauce events, yet a picture is worth 1,000 words. It seems painfully obvious, but you'd be amazed how many projects put on cool events, but don't have any proof that it happened. Taking photos 1) gets new people excited about the project and 2) is free publicity when members are tagged in your photos. Photos don't have to be limited to events, if you have a particularly large gathering, always take photos, it'll last longer.

Celebrate milestones. Your first 100 likes or your first 500 likes is a big deal. It took you a lot to get there there click that 'add milestone' button on Facebook. Also, add other milestones like when your project began, got its own space, or marched in it's 1st pride.

Utilize the cover page real estate. Your Facebook cover page is big and visual. Specifically design event posters that fit in this space and add a link to the Facebook event in the photo's description.

Join the conversation. If people are participating in #ThrowBackThursday / #tbt  (just means posting "old" photos - and "old" is a relative term), you can do the same. Use the hashtags people are using and celebrate those good times of yesteryear. 1 year counts.

Don't be boring. Every post could be somebody's first post and their last. Make sure what you're posting is interesting to the demographic you're trying to reach.

RELATEDTips on Social Media Advertising: FUSE Mpowerment Project publicity best practices. 

Coordinators Jonathan and Andy celebrate breaking 2000 'likes' 12.15.13
Additional Social Media and Publicity ideas can be found in Module 10 "Publicizing the Mpowerment Project" a free download at

HIV prevention by developing healthy communities.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to mobilize a successful Core Group with few resources | The Mu Crew Mpowerment best practices

The Mu Crew is a Project of AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

Funding level “Copper” (lowest): The Mu Crew, a project with less than one dedicated full-time-employee (FTE), because of this low funding, they have adapted their Core Group (CG) meetings accordingly.

Issue: They used to host CG meetings twice a month, but that was too chaotic. Also, the meetings would drag on and they had guys who were falling asleep and getting board with a longer planning meeting and agenda. They were loosing numbers and the meetings were dragging out.

Solution: They decided to "up" CG to three meetings a month.  The 1st and 3rd Tuesdays are  ‘modified’ meetings. These meetings offer a light agenda - participants make fewer decisions and they also get to decide how active they want to be involved in upcoming events. The agenda part of the evening never goes longer than one hour. Participants are presented with a short and concise agenda. When the hour is up, they end the meeting and proceed to host the night’s social event. They do planning at this meeting, but leave the high-level planning for the ‘committee’ Core Group.  These meetings are light and social and around 25 participants show up for these meetings. On these nights some participants will skip the light agenda entirely and just show up for the social event. The agenda portion of the evening is always completed by 8.30pm.

The 4th Tuesday is a ‘committee’ Core Group. Is the ‘nuts and bolts’ meeting. The committee meeting meets for an indefinite length of time, until everything is planned and done. When they have larger events and outreaches coming up, they tend to stay later, otherwise the meetings don’t last all night. They talk and hash out all the details for upcoming events. The ‘committee’ is always fed. Pizza is provided at this meeting. Around 10 dedicated volunteers show up. These 10 are on a e-mail short-list dedicated to project planning agenda items.

Module 5 Core Group and Volunteers is a free download on
Objectives: To familiarize you with the decision-making body of the Project, the CG, as well as other volutneers who are not part of the CG. Both the CG and the non-Core Group volunteers are essential Core Elements of the MP.
Happy Birthday Mu Crew!