The cure for the citizens committee that never shows up

We have seen it all too often, and maybe you have experienced it in your district: The mystery of the vanishing Citizens Advisory Committee (or whatever you call your formal feedback group of constituents).

The first meeting bristles with excitement, as citizens pile into the meeting room and carry on a structured conversation about the committee purpose, discuss future meeting dates and aspirations, and maybe even tackle a topic that’s a “low-hanging fruit.”

The next meeting draws 25 percent fewer attendees, but it still has a pretty good turnout and discussion. Then the ball really starts to roll downhill, in terms of attendance.

How to get around this? Conduct Virtual Citizens Advisory Committee meetings. Here’s how they work:

  • You have the traditional first meeting, but with a twist – that’s the last time.
  • You announce, instead, the group will be asked to make a one-year commitment to answering brief online surveys (either quarterly, or six times a year). The surveys will take 10 minutes, and 100 percent participation is required. Pass around a sample survey to show you really do mean 10 minutes.
  • An email with key details will precede the surveys.
  • Ask the group members to sign up before they leave. Also, tell them they will be asked to provide their name on each survey, in case follow-up is necessary.

Patron Insight has successfully assisted several schools districts with Citizens Advisory Committees. If we can help you get one underway, contact Rick Nobles at (913) 484-0920 or [email protected].