A classic feature in integration: You organize something, but nobody shows up, very few people show up or not the right people show up. We have a few ideas on how to fix that.


There has been a great deal of debate as to why “integration activities” so often come to nothing. In our opinion, what happens in practice is that in many cases two things are approached separately from each other: the recruitment of volunteers and the recruitment of participants for activities. In this way, the volunteers are often just natives, whereas the recruitment of participants largely focuses on newly arrived persons. This not only leads to the reinforcement of roles that are detrimental to integration, but also means that activities end up with poor participation. In our experience, this realization has already been made at several places; however, there is a lack of ideas on how to do things differently. We would like to remedy this situation right here.



Invite newly arrived persons to join the team, preferably as paid associates – provided that you have the resources for this – even if these are only temporary mini-jobs. These persons will have ideas that you haven’t been able to come up with. And they will be able to reach other persons that you would otherwise never be able to reach. Not to be underestimated: The signal that you send to other newly arrived persons in this way.


Declare natives to be your – perhaps most important? – target group. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the broader your local network is, the more sustainably successful your integration work will be. Volunteers always provide a multiplicative effect. Furthermore, natives are not necessarily well-integrated themselves or able to contribute towards integration per se.


Introduce new roles in addition to “volunteer service”: Some people are driven away by the word “office”. For example, you can also attract “experts” or “ambassadors”, ideally from the target groups you wish to work with. This will noticeably improve your outreach.


In many cases, integration work focuses on deficits, for example on lacking language skills. Looking at the talents, passions and skills of the persons that you work with opens up brand-new opportunities for designing the integration process. Your “ambassadors” (see above) can assist you with finding talent. Of course, a personal conversation can also be very helpful.


Identify “construction sites” in your vicinity that affect everyone. This could be a broken playground or an unused grassy area. Make a project from it. The joint experience of self-efficacy is highly community-building and contributes – almost as a side effect – towards a number of other integration objectives.