Without participants, there is no participatory project. Recruitment is often one of the most time-consuming tasks in a participatory project – and there is no indication that recruitment for online participatory activities is easier than recruiting for offline ones. Having designed a killer project is not always necessarily enough.
The first thing that you have to do is to prepare a recruitment strategy. You have already identified the young people whom you would like to invite to take part in the project. In the box below we have included a selection of methods which are often used in participatory projects. Have a look and choose the ones that suit your project and country.
If your project runs for several months, recruitment is not a one-off activity. It is something which takes place continuously. However, in this case, you need to decide whether it is important to retain the same group of people throughout the whole process, which does not necessarily have to be the case.
If it is important for your project’s legitimacy that participants form a diverse and representative group of young people then you have to collect demographic data. However, this collection of data cannot be done on the OPIN platform as it only asks for a minimum of data when you sign up. So, start by reading the tip Privacy and data protection: OPIN is a safe place! Whether you should aim for diversity (mix of opinions and experiences) or representativeness (statistical sample of population) highly depends on where you are in your process. If you are in the early stages of your project and collecting inputs, then diversity should do. If you are at the more advanced stages of your project and voting for, let’s say, different policy options then you should aim for representativeness. In any case, the method for selecting participants is the same.
The collection of demographic data should be done when young people sign up for the project. When the deadline for signing up has passed, you should go through all the registrations and put together a group that reflects the demographic distribution in the context of your project (e.g. school district, city or region). To ensure that it is only the selected young people who participate in the online activities you can set up a private process on OPIN. Learn more about this in the OPIN User Manuals!
Another way to recruit a diverse group of young people is to collaborate with the local schools, sports clubs or the like. This is also a way to reach young people who don’t normally participate in these kinds of activities.