At the heart of every campaign we run are our members. Without members, we would have no one to help deliver leaflets, knock on doors, or persuade electors to vote for us. Clearly a community-based party, the pandemic has impacted our ability to recruit people.
As we emerge from the other side of the pandemic there are opportunities to grasp in recruiting new members. Many people are looking to get back out there once again into the world, to meet new people, make new friends and most importantly make a difference in their community.
In this article, I’ll be providing some tips as to how we can start recruiting new members and growing our party.
What is the message as to why people should ‘join us’?
All successful organisations need to be able to easily communicate why they do what it is they do. People like to have a sense of purpose, and political parties are organisations with strong purposes and values.
- Articulating and promoting Liberal Democrat values
- A sense of belonging
- Making new friends
- Getting exercise from leaflet delivery!
- Defines our identity
- Learning new skills
- Say in our policymaking and a vote in selections
- Achieving a political goal
Persuading people to join
Providing people with some written reasons to join is a start. To be persuasive though you will need to visually show people the reasons. The best way of doing this is via the use of ‘vox pops’ (a short quote from a member or supporter) and a good set of pictures.
Social Proof – Make good use of vox pops from our members to promote to others the benefits of joining and being involved.
Good pictures – Get a decent set of pictures of our members enjoying themselves at local party events. Whether that is at dinners, discussion evenings, workshops or out campaigning.
How to deliver the ‘join us’ message
- Direct mail
Sending letters to potential members is a good way to plant the seed of becoming a Liberal Democrat member. We suggest sending this type of mailing out to people who have positively engaged with us. This could be that they have canvassed as a Liberal Democrat, signed one of our petitions, provided us with their email address etc. You can use the following target pools on Connect to help identify people in these groups.
- Recent MPID : Lib Dem Definites
- Volunteer Prospects : Tier One
- Volunteer Prospects : Tier Two
- Volunteer Prospects : Tier Three
- National Website Petition Signers : Already known to us (has MyCampaign record)
- National Website Petition Signers : Signed Petition in last 200 days
- National Website Petition Signers : Other Petition Signers
Here is a link to a mailing like this recently produced by Rochdale Liberal Democrats, and here is the insert that went with it. It provides a good real-life example of what other Liberal Democrats are producing. You can also find examples of member recruitment inserts and leaflets on the party’s campaigners drive, and our file library.
Top tip – For effective targeting, you need effective data. This is achieved through regular doorstep canvassing and surveying of our electors.
- On the doorsteps
Often the personal ask to join can be the most effective. It might be a good idea to follow up with people you have sent membership recruitment letters to with an in-person visit on the doorstep. In person, you are able to sell the benefits of joining and answer any questions people might have or address any hesitancies or uncertainties.
Top tip – Go out and specifically canvass supporters to get new volunteers and members.
- Via petitions and surveys
Many members join due to a specific issue. We saw that nationally with big issues such as the Iraq War or Brexit creating large surges in our membership numbers. The same can be true to a lesser extent if you are running a good local campaign. Often a grassroots community campaign might be someone’s first experience of political campaigning, and it can be a good introduction to politics and a good way to find new members.
Top tip – Make sure to follow up with people who sign our petitions with regular communications, and to put them on a pathway to becoming a member.
- At events
Historically political events, social events and fundraisers were a great way of getting people along and recruiting them to join the party. COVID has made this very difficult over the past couple of years, but as society opens up again, we must get out there and seize the opportunities to put on events. People want to have face to face interactions again.
Top tip – Organise a Libertea or pints and politics events and invite potential new members to come along.
- Emails and social media
Evidence suggests it is perhaps harder to get people to join on the back of an email or social media post (even if advertised). However, we do suggest that you include a ‘join us’ message as part of any regular email or communications that you put out digitally. The reason for this is that repetition of the message is important. Likely a potential new member will have had to have seen an advert or message to join us on several occasions before they decide to take the plunge. So taking a multi-channel approach to your membership recruitment campaign is certainly the best practice
Top Tip – Make sure you have a ‘join us’ link and article on every email you send out to supporters