FatherTopics: Getting the Fathers to Come Back
This guest post from NFI's Executive Vice President, Christopher Brown offers great advice for facilitators of fatherhood programs to keep the fathers coming back. Among other responsibilities at NFI, Chris oversees Product Development for our fatherhood resources and curricula.
Facilitators of fatherhood programs often struggle with retaining dads. Dads show up one week, not the next, and the pattern continues. Inconsistent attendance reduces the impact of the program and can negatively affect the results of an evaluation and, ultimately, future funding.
NFI provides tips and guidance on retention strategies during training institutes on our programs (e.g. 24/7 Dad® and Doctor Dad®). You can also click here to download a free PowerPoint® presentation on recruitment and retention.
One of the most surprising tips for retaining fathers is one of the simplest—reminder postcards. NFI provides reminder postcards with our 24/7 Dad® programs. But you can use reminder postcards with any program. Purchase some blank postcards and stamp or write the name of your organization or program on them. Include the next date, time, and location of the program and stick them in the mail immediately following the most recent session. (Another option is to use business-card sized “appointment” cards that fathers stick in their wallets or affix to their refrigerator with a magnet.)
To make the use of reminder postcards even more effective, use the power of social norms. Implement the following three tactics to create a social norm of regular attendance:
1. Have the dads complete reminder postcards themselves at the end of each session. Dads will see other dads complete them, which creates peer pressure to attend and sends a clear message about the importance of regular attendance. Research on individuals who complete their own “appointment reminder cards” shows that it increases attendance above and beyond when staff complete them.
2. Ask dads who regularly attend to share why they do so.
3. Display a sign during sessions that says something like, “most fathers attended the last session” or “’x’% of fathers attended the last session.” Only display the sign, of course, if you can honestly report that a majority of dads or a high proportion of them attend sessions. Research on displaying signs of this type shows that it increases retention above and beyond the completion of appointment reminder cards.
If you decide to implement this tip and tactics, let us know. We’d love to hear how well they work!
For questions about National Fatherhood Initiative programs, please contact us here