ADVICE: Finding and retaining members and helpers
ALDC exists to provide the advice, resources and training you need to get elected and make a difference for your community. As well as the information you can get from our advice line and development officers, we also offer an FAQ section on our website with over 200 of the most common questions answered. Remember you can get help engaging with members and supporters, as well as other key campaigning skills, at our Kickstart weekends (our next one is in November). 
Here’s our advice article on finding and retaining members and helpers…
The biggest challenge Liberal Democrat campaigners often have is attracting enough helpers to deliver a winning campaign. To make the most of your campaign team you need to think about three key areas:

  1. How to recruit new helpers and deliverers
  2. How to keep the members and helpers you already have on board
  3. How to develop the skills of your team so that you are fit for the future

Recruiting new helpers and deliverers

Whilst we all enjoy the delivery exercise that goes with any campaign, delivering thousands of leaflets week in, week out, is not the best use of councillors and candidates’ time. We need to be building up a network of deliverers to help spread our message and sustain the level of campaigning that we need to win council and Parliamentary seats across the country.

Top tips for recruiting new deliverers include:

  • A good starting point is a local survey on local or national issues. Always include a help box inviting people to help deliver in their street or area. More detailed advice on surveying can be found on our website.
  • Always follow up any offer of help with a phone call or personal visit to see how much they are prepared to deliver. If possible, this visit should include handing over their first delivery route. There is nothing worse for a volunteer than offering to help and then waiting many months before being asked to do anything!
  • Don’t start people off with walks that are too large. Keep the routes to a size that could be reasonably delivered in under an hour. You can always ask people to do more at a later date if they seem keen.
  • If you have particular delivery routes with no deliverer, try knocking on the doors of known supporters as you are delivering the walk and ask them to help deliver. Alternatively, try delivering a slip asking people to volunteer because our existing helper has “moved away” to try to fill the gaps
  • Contact people who you have helped with casework or who have supported one of your local campaigns. Approaching people who you already have some kind of relationship with is always more effective.
  • Don’t forget to include members – many will have not been asked to help before or their circumstances might have changed and they may be willing to help your campaign.

Recruiting new members

If we are to grow our party, it goes without saying that we need to recruit more members. The more members we have, the more money and people we will have to support our campaigning.

Although all recruitment is worthwhile, it is especially important to try and get members to join through direct debit.  Not only does this mean that their membership is less likely to lapse and so helps save you trying to chase up their payment in a year’s time, the saving on administration means that your local party gets a bigger share of their membership subs. The benefit for the member is that they can spread their membership fee over the course of a year by paying monthly or quarterly. The majority of Liberal Democrat members now pay their subs through direct debit, and so it is no longer a minority option.

Doorstep recruitment – the five steps

  1. Target the right people – for example lapsed members, definite supporters, poster sites, deliverers etc.
  2. Think before you knock – dress smartly, remember the person’s name and know why you are calling upon them.
  3. The first impression – hold nothing in your hands, especially not a clipboard, take a step back and use open body language.
  4. Use the five point plan: 1. Thank them for their support; 2. Talk about our local and national activity; 3. Explain how the party is funded; 4. Explain there are no obligations; 5. Talk about the benefits of direct debit.
  5. Finally, ask them to join! If they say no – politely thank them for their continued support and ask them to consider helping in another way, for example delivering, displaying a poster or applying for a postal vote.

Keeping your members and helpers

More often than not, people join a political party because they want to make a difference. If we can meet and exceed their expectations, they are likely to remain members and supporters for many years to come. There are many ways to do this, but make sure you start by getting the basics right:

  • Send a welcome pack to all new members and helpers
  • Send a members and helpers newsletter, at least quarterly
  • Ensure members and helpers can find out about events (social, political, fundraising and campaigning) online and offline
  • Ensure every member and helper is invited to every event
  • Contact your members and helpers personally to ask what they want to do, at least once a year

It is vitally important that we retain the support of our existing members and helpers as well as recruit new people. There are more ideas on keeping your members and supporters involved on both ours and the party’s websites.

Developing your team for the future

Alongside your recruitment and retention efforts, every Liberal Democrat campaigner should be looking to strengthen the skills base of their team. Every agent, candidate, campaign organiser, fundraiser and so on started somewhere and it is in our interests to help every member and helper learn new skills so that they can help strengthen the party in new ways.

Make the most of training opportunities – at regional and national conferences, at ALDC events, and through the many campaign guides and information available on our website.

Check out the party’s excellent online training and skills website (OSKAR) – where you can find video and PDF guides on a range of campaign skills including Connect, how to canvass, campaign strategy and literature writing.

Think about how you can develop your local party, take stock of your situation now and how you can draw up achievable but ambitious plans for the next five years to improve your position. There is a pack full of local party development ideas on the party’s website.

Nancy Baldwin says

The link to the 22 page pack does not link to anything. Could you fix this please? Thanks you!

David Coole says

OSKAR link does not work. Can you fix this please. Is there another way to get to OSKAR?

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