Key Tips and How-Tos


Identify your personnel needs

Work through partners to find leaders and instructors

Identify other sources of leaders and instructors

Develop an ongoing promotion and recruitment plan

Implement your plan

Evaluate and modify your plan


Identify your personnel needs


  • Determine the scope of your recruitment efforts:


    • How many programs are you recruiting for?
    • How many classes and locations within each program do you want to offer?


  • Identify what types of people and qualifications you need. Review the position descriptions to help you determine good candidates.


    AF Aquatic Instructor WORDAquatic PDFAF Exercise WORDExercise PDF;and  AF Self-Help WORD, Self-Help PDF position descriptions



    • If you need teams of people to teach the AF Self-Help Course you may want to focus on recruiting more lay people with arthritis.
    • If you want more AF Exercise Program instructors, you may want to focus on recruiting more individuals with an exercise or fitness background.
    • If you intend to offer the programs to a specific audience, for example a young adult or culturally diverse population, you’ll want to recruit representatives from that target population.



    Work through partners to find leaders and instructors


    • It is easier to sustain the programs with leaders and instructors who are affiliated with a specific organization, particularly system partners and other large facilities where there is an existing collaboration to do the AF programs. If you are a partnering agency, start your recruitment efforts by looking within. Do you have staff or volunteers or other constituents who would be good candidates to be trained?
    • Consider other existing collaborative relationships as sources of program personnel. For example, consider:


      • A large business or worksite that has partnered with the AF to form an Arthritis Walk team. They also may be interested in getting some of their staff trained to offer an AF program to their employees.
      • An organization like the office of services to the aging that is a member of the state arthritis coalition and/or has been collaborating with the state health department on chronic disease programs for the elderly. They might be interested in adding arthritis programs.
      • Brainstorm with other AF and state health department staff about potential agencies that may be able to assist you with recruiting appropriate people or who have existing staff and/or volunteers who may be appropriate people to recruit.




    Your focus should be on recruiting individuals who are affiliated with a specific collaborating agency. You might need to cast a wider net, especially when working in a new area where you do not have any partners or if you need to augment the resources available through your own organization and your partnering agencies. When recruiting individuals who are not affiliated with a partner organization, remember that an important quality control mechanism is to obtain a signed co-sponsorship agreement from the location where the individual will be teaching the program PRIOR to training.




    Identify other sources of leaders and instructors


    • Examine other existing connections with people.
      • Current and past program instructors, leaders and trainers might be interested in cross-training to do another program. They might also be able to suggest others they know who could be recruited.
      • Other involved persons such as AF Chapter walkers, runners and other special events volunteers and participants that meet the instructor qualifications might be interested in taking their involvement to the next level.
      • People with arthritis who are already involved with the AF and/or have been program participants can be a great fit. Since we know from the 2006 AF-CDC Program Needs Assessment Survey that 49% of the surveyed leaders and instructors have arthritis, this seems like an ideal place to recruit. They are already familiar with AF programs and have benefited from their participation. For instance, the AF Southern California chapter has been successful in recruiting potential volunteers from the chapter's strong young adult network.
    • Consider where you can reach groups of the types of people who might be interested and have the qualifications to do the programs. According to the 2006 Needs Assessment Survey, 45% of the surveyed leaders and instructors are in the exercise, fitness, recreational or aquatic field. Another 8% are nurses, 8% are teachers, 5% are physical therapists, 5% are health educators, 4% are occupational therapists and 12% are retired. Find out how you can strategically target these groups. For example, you might be able to reach them through their member mailing lists and organizational meetings.


    • When you are trying to move into a new area and/or reach a specific population, learn as much as you can about the community and NETWORK:
      • Perform a community assessment to learn about key agencies and individuals.
      • Read newspapers and other print media available in the community and stay informed about activities where there might be large groups of potential qualified candidates.
      • Visit Health and Fitness Expos, health fairs at large employer groups and hospital systems, community and organizational meetings, etc.



    Develop an ongoing promotion and recruitment plan


    • While you will intensify your recruitment efforts whenever you plan a training workshop, you should also create a promotional plan that will incorporate ongoing efforts to reach instructors/leaders as well.


    Sample promotional strategies

    Develop a comprehensive approach that includes multiple strategies such as:



    • Placing an appeal in your chapter newsletter. Profile existing leaders and trainers in a newsletter article and include a recruitment message, like "you, too, can change lives by becoming..." Create a business card sized recruitment ad that can be used as "fill" whenever extra space exists in the newsletter.
    • Cross-marketing to existing program personnel, AF volunteers and program and special event participants:
      •  Provide recruitment information at AF special events and program classes.

      • Three months prior to a training workshop, request a query from the AF Team Approach customer database of former special event and program participants and contact them regarding their interest in your upcoming training. 
    • Encouraging word of mouth. Ask existing trainers and program personnel and class participants to ask someone they know to become a program leader or instructor.
    • Using medical contacts. Promote to people with arthritis and health professionals through existing relationships with rheumatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, other physicians and medical groups.
    • Marketing through professional groups and academic institutions


      • Promote the programs through professional organizations' member mailing lists. Look at state professional organizations, retired teachers associations, corporate retiree groups, etc. for their mailing lists. For example, the AF New York Chapter distributed a recruitment flyer through mailing lists for physical therapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, registered dietitians and other groups. The chapter also attends allied health professional association meetings each year to recruit new instructors. A similar approach was used in Nebraska. To learn more, click here
      • Provide a booth or presentation at the organization's annual meeting.
      • Approach college faculty and students in related fields about their interest in a teaching or community services opportunity. For example, the AF Tennessee Chapter developed a relationship with a local university through the chair of their public health committee which resulted in the successful recruitment of physical therapy and occupational therapy students who were trained to conduct the AF Self-Help Program and AF Exercise Program classes. The AF Massachusetts Chapter also had a successful experience with a community college.

      See: Examples from the Field to learn more about the AF Massachusetts experience
    • Conducting community outreach activities. For example, ask current instructors and trainers to make presentations to relevant groups such as churches if you're trying to reach African American AF Self-Help Program leaders.

       Join the Program Team and the AF Southern California Take Control PowerPoint presentations for sample talking points
    • Using other volunteer vehicles. Take advantage of other general volunteer recruitment efforts such as community newspaper volunteer opportunity sections and Web sites such as


                  See: Supplementary Resources for other helpful Web sites



    Implement your plan


    • After you have selected the appropriate promotional and recruitment strategies, you need to develop a timeline, assign the tasks to specific individuals and ensure that you have the budget for any promotional materials and activities such as mailings of the recruitment brochure.
    • Whether individuals come to you with an interest in getting trained, or you've gone to them to promote the programs, at some point they need to be specifically asked to undergo training and teach. Adopting the following 3-step approach will help ensure that you are addressing their interests while also communicating the program needs:


      • Open—Communicate how AF programs can help improve the lives of people with arthritis and what you are trying to accomplish with new leaders and instructors. Be friendly and enthusiastic.
      • Message—Find out their motivators and communicate how they can achieve what they want by becoming a leader or instructor. According to the 2006 Needs Assessment Survey, most of the surveyed leaders and instructors got involved with the programs because they wanted to help people with arthritis, to learn more about arthritis or because it was part of their job responsibilities. Also, learn about their skills and qualifications so you can explain how these relate to the specific tasks and responsibilities of a leader/ instructor.
      • Close—Ask the individual to commit to becoming a trained leader or instructor and teaching classes.


    • Remember that first impressions really matter and will form the basis for your long term relationship with the candidate:

      • Respond promptly to calls.
      • Make sure your recruitment packet is professional and complete.
      • Thank the candidate for thinking of the AF.
      • Complete the groundwork that will spark loyalty.
      • Recruit for a good fit.
      • Provide the big picture of your organization and how leaders/instructors help you attain your mission.
    • Here are some additional tips for recruiting:

      • Be prepared. Practice your ask and bring the appropriate materials For example, bring program information and position descriptions.
      • Make sure the recruiter matches the prospect. The best person to make the ask is someone who knows the programs and also knows the prospect personally. Volunteers are the most successful at recruiting other volunteers. 85 percent of those asked to volunteer by someone close to them say yes.
      • Recruiting face to face is more effective than over the phone or via email.
      • Be honest about the time required and your expectations, and never apologize for them.


    Evaluate and modify your plan


    • It's important to evaluate your leader/ instructor recruitment plan on an annual basis.
    • Always ask participants who register for training workshops how they heard about the training so you are able to determine which recruitment techniques are most effective.
    • Modify your plan as needed. Look for techniques that worked and build upon those while adjusting those strategies that were not effective for you. For example, the Nebraska Department of Health previously conducted a mass recruitment effort by mailing to professional society member lists, which helped them identify health professionals from parts of their state where they didn't already have a presence. Today, they are focusing their efforts on recruiting through their system partnership with area agencies on aging.


      See: Examples from the field to learn more about the Nebraska experience







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