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For Common Interest Calls

From the book
When Everyone’s a Volunteer
by Ivan Scheier

Background and Rules
This is a way of helping people in a group identify others with common interests. Usually it helps to set some limits on the overall subject areas to be chosen. For example: "today we will focus on issues that affect the quality of life in our neighborhood, "or," use this opportunity to find people who share your leisure time interests."

Each "Common Interest Caller" fills out the top part of a "Participation Poster" (see next page) and puts it up on the wall or on a table. Be sure there is plenty of room between different posters. It is also a good idea to scan all the posters at this point and group them at least roughly in terms of similarity of subject matter; for example, all the posters which have to do with fundraising, or all the posters that have to do with food/nutrition.

The entire group of people then circulates, preferably all in one direction; each signs up on as many posters as he or she wishes. (But remember, there are just so many things you have time to learn more about!) Where there is a choice between several participation posters in a similar subject area, the suggestion is to sign the one that seems closest to your own interest.

As it says on the poster, signing up does not mean any obligation to action; it signifies a willingness to learn about or discuss a topic of mutual concern.

If the posters are on a wall, be careful the ink doesn't come through and damage the wall!


Forming Common Interest Clusters

Name of "Common Interest Caller": ___________________________________

Address: ________________________________ Date: ___________________


Telephone Number: day ( ) _______________ evening: ( ) __________________




Put just one topic or subject here: _____________________________

Sign below if you are interested in being contacted about this. Signing below does not obligate you to participate, nor does it necessarily mean you are an expert in this area. Your sign-up may mean you want to learn more about this topic, have information to shore on it or bother.

Name Telephone Number Day/Evening

Comments and Suggestions
If the group has a regular meeting place-office, church, meeting room, etc.-the participation posters can be left up for days or even weeks. Alternatively, the sign-up process can be completed immediately in an hour or even less. Participation posters can also be left up in high traffic pass-by places such as a shopping center. In such cases, they are often decorated quite attractively by their Callers.

After an agreed-upon interval, the Common Interest Caller should take tl--e initiative in contacting people who signed her or his participation poster. Depending on interest and feasibility, the result may be telephone discussion, a face-to-face meeting, sitting at the same table at meetings of a larger group, planning for getting training or expert consulting help in the common interest area, publishing a common interest directory, etc.

At the low range of number of participants (15-20), about 45 minutes should be enough. At the high range, for about 100 participants, at least an hour and fifteen minutes should be allowed. Whatever group size, be sure to give people enough time to browse through the posters and sign on for whatever interests them.

When Everyone's a Volunteer   by Ivan Scheier is available for purchase from Energize.