Lessons Learned

What Worked

  • Having measurable goals as outlined in the proposal accepted by the Office for Victims of Crime, including the number of faith community partners recruited, number of clergy and leaders trained, number of faith-based fraud prevention seminars, and number of older adults receiving assistance through the faith community advocate.
  • Having a policy of flexibility that allowed the partners, their denominations, and their congregations to participate in creating a program with the greatest mutual benefit as well as ease of use by the partners.
  • Staffing the project with a former minister who understood the target population, and earned immediate credibility from clergy.
  • Having a project director and outreach specialist with marketing backgrounds.
  • Meeting first with denominational leaders at regional headquarters to request their endorsements and assistance in recruiting partners and setting up clergy trainings.
  • Using a variety of marketing methods and contacts to reach clergy and lay leaders, including letters from the district attorney and denominational leaders, e-mails, telephone calls, and connections with faith community secretaries and office administrators.
  • Conducting several smaller trainings by denomination or by pairing like denominations rather than two or three large interfaith trainings.
  • Using other district attorney community advocates or other community activists to provide an introduction to, and to achieve endorsement from, minority communities that may be distrustful of law enforcement.
  • Moving toward one-on-one partner recruiting rather than clergy trainings for those faith communities that followed after the "innovators" and "early adopters."
  • Using adult learning techniques such as interactive table discussions and quizzes for clergy training and "Power Against Fraud" seminars.
  • Inviting a victim of elder financial exploitation to share her story at clergy trainings, which brought a face to the issue and instilled a desire to commit to the project.
  • Setting up "Power Against Fraud" seminars in conjunction with times when older adults or congregations normally meet, such as monthly senior luncheons or Sunday forums.
  • Asking the clergy and lay leaders to sign partnership commitment forms.
  • Asking those attending "Power Against Fraud" seminars to commit to implementing prevention steps.
  • Providing older adults with an ongoing link to the District Attorney's Office through the Fraud Assistance Line.

What Didn't Work

  • Mailing invitations to clergy. They are simply too busy to read their mail so secretaries often screen their mail. Invitations might not make it past the screening process and into the hands of clergy.
  • Calling directly on minority communities without adequately building bridges through key persons from these communities to provide introduction and endorsement.
  • Marketing the formal 3-hour clergy seminars to those who were more skeptical, as they were not inclined to respond to invitations nor to attend a function outside the purview of their faith community.
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Partnering With Faith Communities To Provide Elder Fraud Prevention, Intervention, and Victim Services
April 2006