One-to-One Connections

Outreach and recruitment are designed to create one-to-one opportunities to talk with fathers in the community, listen to their story, and determine how your program can be helpful to them. Once in conversation with a potential participant there are several practices to keep in mind to increase the chances of enrollment. Whether through informal conversation or during formal intake procedures, it is important to create safe, non-threatening dialogue and engage in empathetic listening. On this page we build on these principles by offering you tips and best practices for making the most out of one-to-one connections.

Tips & Best Practices

  • Do not sell. Remember that the needs of the potential participant are important, not meeting program enrollment goals. Establishing possibilities is the difference between a hard sell and enrollment.
  • Find common ground. This can happen a variety of ways. It can include: a favorite sports team, having grown up in the same community, or a short story about how a social program helped you (does not necessarily have to be fatherhood-specific).
  • Establish personal and organizational credibility. This means following your organization’s dress code, avoiding calling participants by nicknames, and handing out professionally crafted business cards, brochures, and pamphlets.
  • Make the program real for potential clients by speaking about its benefits.
  • Encourage commitment to enter the program.
Spotlight On
Effective Recruitment and Retention: The AIDA Model

At an OFA grantee roundtable, the facilitator presented a marketing model that features four components: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action (AIDA). Roundtable participants gave the following examples of how this can work:

Attention (connect/relate/listen)

  • Connect to what concerns fathers in the community.
  • Use the latest research on the target market.
  • Improve community visibility.
  • Develop referral opportunities.
  • Go to high schools to discuss parents’ rights, responsibilities, and realities.   

Interest (be relevant/provide examples/excite them)

  • Speak about what concerns the target group.
  • Provide examples and testimonials highlighting how others have benefited.
  • Excite them and be encouraging. (“They don’t hear many people say encouraging things.”)

Desire (stress benefits/“feel-good” factor/overcome objections)

  • People want what makes them feel good.
  • Be prepared to overcome objections. Provide examples of the experience of others.
  • Explain how the program can help with child support and employment issues.

Action (demonstrate what is doable and worthwhile/get permission to follow up)

  • Explain the benefits the target population can gain.
  • Inspire better staff performance.
  • Go where dads are.
  • Reach out to moms.


What is empathetic listening?

Empathetic listening is the practice of listening solely to understand. Avoid rebutting, advising, or contradicting. There is no way you can respond to questions if you do truly understand where the other person is coming from.

What if a potential participant mentions needing a service my program does not offer?

Assess whether the participant has any other needs your program can meet. If there are, explain to the potential participant what you can offer and how you can connect them to trusted resources to fill in additional needs.

How should I follow up?

As you wrap up your conversation, obtain the potential participant’s phone number or find out their preferred method of communication (phone, text, email, etc.). Ask them if it would be okay to give contact them within a week. When you call, address them by name and repeat your own name. Briefly recap what you discussed in your one-on-one meeting and guide them to the next step.

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