Checklist for Effective Community Workshops

Location/Day/Time­­

  1. Neutral and convenient: A neutral location, not affiliated with any one lender or service provider, near the targeted community is optimal. Many successful workshops have been held in civic centers, city halls, city libraries and public schools.
     
  2. A/V requirements: Providers should ensure that adequate laptops and projectors are provided. Most meeting facilities will have equipment available, but a partner should be assigned to verify and test equipment in advance of the workshop. Some lenders bring laptops/printers/other equipment.
     
  3. Time allotted: To allow for cleanup, the facility should be reserved for at least an hour past the time that partners plan to finish counseling the last homeowner.
     
  4. Day of week: Workshops are usually held on Saturdays, but some community partnerships have seen success by holding events on weekday afternoons followed by an evening event at the same venue.  

Partners/Presenters

  1. Lenders/servicers: The workshops usually involve a few lender/servicers from the area. It is important that participating lender/servicer representatives have loss-mitigation expertise.
     
  2. Housing/credit counselors: The counselors should be HUD-approved nonprofit providers. Counselors are important to (1) work with borrowers whose lenders are not represented at the event and (2) lend credibility to the effort.

Marketing

  1. Local partners: The workshops are marketed through the local municipality and community partners. For example, the city ofSan Antonio sent a 5”x7” postcard via direct mail to targeted ZIP codes with high rates of foreclosure.
  2. Lenders: Participating lenders send invitations to their borrowers in the area and/or provide funding to the municipality for a direct mailing to target neighborhoods.

Announcements/Flyers

  1. Artwork/ads: A good place to get free marketing materials is the NeighborWorks campaign for foreclosure prevention.
  2. Flyers/posters: Flyers should be brief but informative and contain all pertinent information for the workshop (including any materials/information participants should bring).
  3. Partners’ e-mail alerts: A notice of the workshop should be sent to local partners who can pass it on to their e-mail contacts.  

Registration

A phone number for a local nonprofit partner should be posted on the announcement/flyer so that borrowers can preregister to attend. The nonprofit serving as registrar for the event can then provide estimated attendance to the partners for planning purposes.

Reception/Intake

  1. Sign-up sheet/intake form: As participants enter the facility, they are asked to sign a registration log or sign-up sheet.  
     
  2. Registration table: One or two counselors should work at the registration table to facilitate this process.  
     
  3. Intake sheet: Information collected on the registration log is transferred to the intake sheet and provided to the appropriate lender/counselor.
     
  4. First-come, first-served: At registration, each homeowner is assigned a number in order of appearance. This is needed during the breakout sessions so the mortgage servicers can call up one homeowner at a time. For larger events, volunteers may seat homeowners in a waiting area organized by lender/servicer then escort the next homeowner as space becomes available at each lender’s table.

Refreshments/Giveaways

  1. Refreshments: A simple snack and beverage, such as cookies and punch, are usually offered at the workshop. Lenders or nonprofit partners take turns providing the refreshments for the workshops.
     
  2. Gift cards: As an incentive for attending, gift cards are sometimes given away in a drawing after the presentation.

Workshop Agenda

  1. Introductions: The opening presenter should start the presentation by introducing all members of the partnership who are present and thanking any partners not present but who have provided resources to the event. Presenters should emphasize that nonprofit counselors are available to meet with borrowers, in addition to their lenders, and explain the benefits of working with a nonprofit counselor.
     
  2. PowerPoint presentation: The workshop begins with a PowerPoint presentation of the basics on default mitigation and foreclosure prevention. The presentation should be generic, not specific to a particular lender or loan type. One or two lenders may volunteer to present this portion of the workshop and should provide copies of the PowerPoint presentation for attendees.
     
  3. One-on-one meetings with lenders/servicers/nonprofit counselors: A frequent comment from borrowers who attend the workshops is that they are grateful for the opportunity to have a face-to-face discussion with their lender.

Media

  1. Media contact: If media coverage is needed to help publicize the event, one or more partners should be assigned to contact the media and provide them with information about the workshop.
  2. Media interview: At the workshop, media interviews should be conducted outside the general meeting room, and members of the media should be asked not to film homeowners due to privacy concerns.