One of the most well-received messages within many communities are those centered around healthy activities such as exercise, diet programs, and alternative therapies such as swimming, saunas, or YMCA promotions. While there is slim line which can be crossed, impressing upon others you think there’s something wrong with them, broad suggestions can still remain as very effective. As with all notions, every organization should certainly know and respect the interests of the communities in which they serve. If, for instance, you live in a BBQ focused area, keen on football, also near a major tobacco producing facility—chances are your community, as a whole, will be less inclined to participate in health-promoting activities. If, however, you live in an up-and-coming district of a city that is peppered with vegan, organic, and all-natural restaurants—your plan to roll out a community health program may be super effective!
We’ll get into the details of how to better manage your groups approaches to these kind of events later, but for now just get inspired by a list of great ideas for community events:
- Infrared Sweat Lodges are becoming a new trend among people, which involve using near-infrared heat lamps to create sauna-type areas in which people can ‘sweat out’ whatever sounds like a catchy reference to toxins for your event to use. Sweat out bad politics, sweat out the stress, sweat out the heat; etc—its a variable play on words that could be reused across many events. These types of non-traditional sweat lodges are becoming wildly popular lately, and offer and offer a great number of health benefits.
- Walking and running events, such as marathons, half-marathons, 5k runs, 2k runs, and etc. are all great ways to get people moving. These events are over-played, and therefore not very awe-inspiring or interesting to many anymore, but they are still effective at getting people to move around a little. Just walking 10-15 minutes a day can benefit one’s health tremendously!
- Rock Climbing Events such as local indoor gyms hosting events, or having a climbing wall brought on location can offer a great unique opportunity for exercise for people. These types of events often promote much more interest than 5K run-type events, simply because they are much more rare.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
If you’re doing some poking and prodding (community research) regarding what types of lifestyle programs your community may be excited about, remember to focus on the broad details first. For example, before you decide whether you should serve vegan hot dogs or tofu burgers at your 24 hour Walk Around the Park for Animal Rights Awareness event, you should have a fair idea of the percentage of Vegans living in your community. An example, while doing house calls or neighborhood polling, poke in the question “Are you, or anyone you know, a Vegan or Vegetarian?” If 1% of your community responds yes to this type of question, you’ll know that serving tofu burgers and hot dogs won’t likely add any extra turnout to your event. If, however, you get a 30% response from neighborhood citizens that they are Vegan or Vegetarian, then the extra investment in Vegan and Vegetarian options for event food may help drive your event from ‘mediocre’ to ‘grand-success.’
If you don’t have good data from your community to help guide decisions, the default perspective a successful organization takes is one that would help benefit the event as a whole. If, for instance, you have no clue what type of food your community wants, but know they LOVE inflatable bouncing cages, then don’t waste your money on some expensive niche food offering when those bucks could be bringing them the bouncy pen their hearts are craving!
Detoxing Bad Expectations
Oddly enough, we’ve found that many groups are often plagued by a self-perpetuating notion that nothing they can do will matter within their community. This mindset is easy to slip into briefly, but more dynamic for those groups that suffer from it on a systemic level. When you approach your community with an event, many are looking to you to help them decide how interested they should be. If your ground teams are just walking up to houses and muttering some nonsense about the event—just to get it done with—then that energy is going to be associated with your event by those members of your community. It’s for this reason it is super important to make sure the people that are talking and promoting your events are those with positive attitudes, infectious energies, and overall good nature.
Many people regard volunteer and non-profit organizations, which are often charities, as being overly charitable for all facets of life. This exposes these groups to many people that want to say they are ‘volunteering’ but don’t actually care anything about it. You shouldn’t feel any expectations towards retaining the company of persons such as these—give them the boot, be clear about it, and don’t think twice. Every person that brings in a sense of negativity, anger, contempt, or other negative emotion brings with them the potential to undercut your groups effectiveness towards reaching it’s end goals and mission.