Spotlight on Recruiting and Growing Your Team

So: you’ve decided you want to take part and you’re really excited about helping to beat cancer. You and your team are going to do something amazing!

Only one problem; try as you might you can’t seem to persuade anyone to sign up! You start panicking; will anyone join you? Are you going to have to walk non-stop for 24 hours?  Have you misjudged your friends and family’s commitment? Have you bitten off more than  you can chew?

So what should you do?


Firstly: Don’t panic! This is totally normal. It can be a little difficult to convey the real concept of Relay for Life to someone who isn’t fully aware of it or experienced it for themselves. Stop, take a deep breath, and grab a piece of paper and a few coloured pens.

Firstly write your own name (or team name if you already have one) in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Put it in bold, underline it, put it in a bubble. This is your team and you should build it round yourself.

We’re going to do a kind of mind map (brainstorm, spider diagram, idea fountain, call it what you will). Just start listing the places you’d recruit people: Your office, your family, your childrens’ schools and sports clubs are just a few things you could think of. Don’t go into any detail or think of any practicalities at this stage, just get as much on the page as possible. Everyone you know represented on one piece of paper.


Once you’ve done this, change your pen colour. It makes your plan pretty to look at, but psychologically it changes your mindset as we’re going to plan something different.

Underneath each item on your plan, write the type of people you’d expect to get there. This may seem over-simplistic but its good to see it on the page.


You’ll want to note down a few words about what you’ll need to know about. Don’t put too much down; just your gut reaction. It can be opportunities you can exploit, problems you may encounter or just a point of interest.


A few things you can consider;

  • Age: Can relate to how much walking members can do on the day. Conversely retirees may like to dedicate more time to fundraising. Consider too; children need to be supervised, especially overnight. You’ll need to have enough adults to look after under 16’s.
  • Lifestyle: How busy your potential members are will limit the amount of fundraising they can do: young professionals will have different time commitments to families
  • size of group: A large tight-knit group can be an “instant team”. However, they may consider being a team on their own.

Next, you’ll need to change pen yet again! We’re going to start thinking a bit more practically about how to recruit the people in your plan. The most important thing at this stage is communication. You need to be able to communicate the essence of Relay and what you are asking them as concisely as possible. You also need to be able to emphasise the aspects of the event that would appeal to that group. So we need to note the following:

  • The key aspects of Relay you want to portray. Think about your prospective team-mates’ motivation for taking part.  To children you can talk of the family-fun day but may want to play down the sentimental aspect. Older people may have different motivations for taking part and may be more receptive to hearing about the ceremonies.

  • How you should portray it. Start by thinking about what you already have. If you’ve received a team captains’ welcome pack there are resources to help you. Look through our website, and look to for more ideas. Your committee can also provide you with information.
    Then think about the people you’re talking to: how will they want to hear the message?  Young professionals may want an email they can read at their leisure, but other people may want a more personal approach. Write down a brief “Quiet chat”, “DVD”, “Email” or however else you think your audience would be most receptive to hearing from you.


Got another pen? You now need to jot down a primary contact for that group. This will be the person you contact and have a quiet chat with before your main sell. It may not be a definite “leader”  but someone that people will listen to, and someone you’re pretty sure of getting on your side.


Now: you have your plan. Time to put it into action! Call your key contacts or mention it in passing when you see them. At this stage be relatively casual and arrange a proper chat.

It’s at that follow-up show them Cancer Research UK’s Relay for Life DVD and literature from both CRUK and the Committee and get them on-board. They may have deeper insight into the dynamics of your target group and you can incorporate these nuggets of information into your sell. You can then work with this contact to gather support  and new team mates.


You should refer to your plan often, and review it occasionally. There may be people you’ve missed or a tactic you’ve not engaged.


Remember, if you are struggling your Relay for Life committee are here to help you. We can sit down and help you plan your team plan, or even put you in contact with other partial teams that you could merge with. If you do need any help or guidance, contact Mark at

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