“Keep the Momentum: maintain your political club enthusiasm” How to keep interest and membership growing in a grass-roots political club By Mark Bauer email@example.com version 20120602 “Keep the Momentum Going” Panel Members Miki Hawkins – co-founder of the Mid-Cities Democrats Cheryl Smith – Vice President, 360 Corridor Democrats (Tarrant County) Dick Abrams – President, Southwest Tarrant County Democrats Felipe Gutierrez – President, Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Mark Bauer – co-founder of the CGS Democrats “Keep the Momentum Going” Socialize / Fellowship • Make your meetings fun. • Your target should be a 60 minute long meeting. Do not exceed 90 minutes unless President Obama himself shows up as guest speaker. • Use a sign-in sheet. Get email addresses! “Keep the Momentum Going” Socialize / Fellowship • Make your club welcoming to people who are political neophytes. Don’t use intimidating language: refrain from using unexplained abbreviations. Assume that your guests do not know the background of various political issues. Examples: VAN = voter activation network TDP = Texas Democratic Party “Keep the Momentum Going” Socialize / Fellowship • Recognize visitors – have a Membership Coordinator whose job it is to get their info and to introduce them to the group. • Feed your membership by either meeting at a restaurant with a back room; or as a fund raiser, have someone bring brown bag meals and drinks “Keep the Momentum Going” Organization • The club should have real officers (President, Vice, Secretary, others) that are elected annually. Decisions by the leaders must have the authority of being from elected officers. • Rotate your officers – let new blood run the club. • For most expenditures and decisions, the President should have buy-in from the other officers. Use email and phone calls. • The club membership should vote for relatively large expenditures or significant decisions. • Club officers can, of course, work for a specific candidate - but candidate promotion during meetings before the primary should be muted. “Keep the Momentum Going” Speakers for the Club We want to be the best informed citizens to select the best candidates and policies. • Invite elected officials, candidates, city officials, government officials, etc... as guest speakers. • Especially during post-election or off-election years, invite speakers for issues: environmental activists, progressive radio DJ’s, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, etc... • However - not every meeting has to have a guest speaker. “Keep the Momentum Going” Speakers for the Club Allow your state and national campaign organizations to make a short report on their local activities. When there is a contested primary presidential or gubernatorial election, make an effort to invite a representative to speak from ALL of the campaigns – even when the other candidates aren’t that popular. “Keep the Momentum Going” Invite Candidates to the Club Meetings • Give candidates, especially first time candidates, an opportunity to introduce themselves, meet activists like yourselves, and to practice their campaign speeches. • Check a candidate’s website and Google them before inviting them to speak at your club to familiarize yourself with them. “Keep the Momentum Going” Invite Candidates to the Club Meetings • Let them know how long they have for a speech – two minutes is a minimum but more than 10 minutes can get long if you have several speakers. • Give candidates constructive criticism in private. • As the club leader, you are the moderator. Give them a one minute warning to wrap up their speech. If they go over their time limit, stand up and walk slowly towards them. “Keep the Momentum Going” Club Endorsement of Candidates • Discourage your club from endorsing candidates in contested primaries. It is divisive, creates unnecessary animosity and loses membership. • Many clubs also have a policy of not endorsing candidates for municipal / school board races. • However, you do want to give candidates in contested primaries a chance to address your club to help members determine the best candidate. “Keep the Momentum Going” Elected Officials / Candidate Recognition • During your meeting, make time to recognize and show your club’s appreciation to elected officials who are present. • Similarly, during campaign seasons, make time to recognize candidates. • Allow the candidates (including incumbents) to make a one or two minute elevator speech. • Be strict about the time. “Keep the Momentum Going” Volunteer for Candidates • Have the club become a resource for candidates looking for volunteers to block walk, phone banks, gather petitions, etc... • Encourage membership to volunteer for campaigns: local, state, and national • Have club members collect contact info on activists from campaigns and other events (i.e. always volunteer to be in charge of the sign-in sheet.) You want to encourage new faces to join your club. “Keep the Momentum Going” Raise Money for Candidates • Get the club registered as a GPAC so that your club can make contributions directly to candidate campaigns: - contributions from the club helps make new contacts and gets new and bigger named speakers • Encourage individuals to contribute to candidates directly. “Keep the Momentum Going” Fundraising for the Club • Annual or biannual events – fundraising dinner, reception, etc… – “North Texas Salute to Speaker of the House Jim Wright”. – “Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Spring Fling” • Gay Bingo • Debate Watch Parties • Election Return Watch Party • Inauguration Day Watch Party “Keep the Momentum Going” Fundraising for the Club Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Spring Fling “Keep the Momentum Going” Fundraising for the Club North Texas Salute to Speaker of the House Jim Wright “Keep the Momentum Going” Earned Media for the Club North Texas Salute to Speaker of the House Jim Wright “Keep the Momentum Going” Fundraising for the Club • Sell merchandise at club meetings, special events, County and State Conventions, etc… (See next slide.) • Use American-made merchandise if possible. • Use union-made merchandise if possible. “Keep the Momentum Going” Fundraising for the Club - Merchandise “Keep the Momentum Going” Promote the visibility of the Democrats Party • Set up booths at festivals and events with associated merchandise sales “Keep the Momentum Going” Candidate Recruitment • Look for and encourage progressive friends and neighbors and club members to serve. Start with non-partisan city and county committees and to consider non-partisan elected positions. • Consider running for office yourself. • We want to build a pool of future elected officials. • Our goal should be to have a Democrat for every position on the ballot “Keep the Momentum Going” Precinct Chairs • If you're in a precinct that has no chair - become the chair. • If you already have a Precinct Chair, contact them and offer to help • Become an expert on the VAN (“Voter Activation Network”) system - review your VAN data and become familiar with your demographics and voting record of your precinct. - try to increase your turnout and DPI at each election. • always call your Democratic voters before EVERY election. - Even the boring elections. You want Democrats to be habit voters. - If you have more than 100 identified Democratic voters in your precinct, get help to make the calls or give yourself more time to make the calls. • Call before early elections start so that you don't waste time calling people who have already voted. - Sort your call list by phone number so that you can cross-off duplicates “Keep the Momentum Going” Activist Training • Learn the science, processes, and practices of successful election campaigns (books, experience, courses, history, etc...) • Get VAN training, learn how to use VAN to pull various types of voters (triple-D’s, hard Democrats, undecideds, etc…) • Work with a well-run campaign to learn new methods and good practices. “Keep the Momentum Going” Voter Registration • Carry voter registration cards with you – hand them out at progressive events and opportunities. When you go out to eat, ask your waiter if they are registered. • Work the crowds and spectators at special events that draw progressives/liberals or minority voters: – Independence Day picnics/firework shows – Martin Luther King, Jr Parades – Michael Moore movies – Cinco de Mayo Parades • Don't hand out voter registration cards at tea party rallies (pick your events carefully) “Keep the Momentum Going” Work with the County Democratic Party • Make your club a source for volunteer help for the county party office, especially during special events/elections • Help the local county Democratic Party raise funds for operating expenses • Become a sustaining member. Use your banking website to setup automatic, small monthly, recurring contributions to level out the cash flow for both you and the county party – and your club. • Help recruit Precinct Chairs for inactive precincts. - Ask the county chair for the triple-D voter list for a nearby inactive precinct and review it for a familiar name. “Keep the Momentum Going” Promote the visibility of the Democratic Party • Send out news releases about upcoming meetings and other events at least two weeks before the event date. Contact television media for big name visitors. “Keep the Momentum Going” Promote the visibility of the Democrats Party Host a candidate forum - free media, the candidates appreciate it also - standard rules from League of Women Voters Candidate Forums * inexpensive, easy to implement * media attention * candidates & media are appreciative * use League of Women Voters rules “Keep the Momentum Going” Promote the visibility of the Democrats Party Signup with TxDOT for a highway cleanup site – helps the environment, the community, and the club gets an inexpensive sign along a highway that promotes the name of the club “Keep the Momentum Going” Club Membership • Use ‘ConstantContact’ for a professional looking email / newsletter for a large distribution list. “Keep the Momentum Going” Club Membership • Personally contact past members who have dropped off • Invite people who donate to progressive candidates and causes (public record: ‘www.OpenSecrets.org’, others) “Keep the Momentum Going” Club Membership • Create business cards with membership contact info, leave them on car doors with progressive bumper stickers “Keep the Momentum Going” National Campaigns - use it as a means of gathering contact info for progressive voters in your area. “Keep the Momentum Going” Picnics – “Meet Your Candidates” - great for local candidates looking for volunteer help and to practice their elevator speech “Keep the Momentum Going” Highway Cleanup Assignment - great publicity for little effort. Clean a one mile stretch of road (both sides) once every three months. Interesting things found also. “Keep the Momentum Going” Special Dinner to Honor Local Political Heroes - great publicity, great fundraiser, and you get to hear from seasoned politicos. (Shown is Jim Hightower and Speaker of the House, Jim Wright) “Keep the Momentum Going” Serve as Election Judge, Alternate Judge, and Clerk – meet your fellow Democrats as they vote. During Primaries, have handouts advertising your next meeting. “Keep the Momentum Going” Utilize those businesses that are Democratic Party / Progressive friendly “Keep the Momentum Going” Use backrooms in restaurants – for watch parties for debates, election returns, State of the Union Address, etc... Great fellowship and an easy fundraiser: charge for entry ($15) and the restaurant will charge about $8 per person for a buffet meal. “Keep the Momentum Going” Liberal author David Sirota, columnist and author of “The Uprising” came to talk about his book. No cost to the club. “Keep the Momentum Going” Participate in Martin Luther King marches and other parades “Keep the Momentum Going” Coordination with other Clubs and Organizations. County Chair Steve Maxwell of Tarrant County gathers the leaders from Tejano Dems, Stonewall Dems, MCD, CGS, Obama for America, Hillary Campaign, etc... for two minute reports. “Keep the Momentum Going” Summer Swim Party – in lieu of meeting “Keep the Momentum Going” Bumper Stickers – sell them as fundraisers at your club meetings. “Keep the Momentum Going” Hold Candidate Events at a Local Wine Store – They tend to have progressive owners and they like to generate traffic into their stores. “Keep the Momentum Going” Protest – Have a Sign-Making Party the day before - control the message, judge how many may participate “Keep the Momentum Going” Protest – get there early, have a handout to media and passersby – gather contact info from sympathetic supporters “Keep the Momentum Going” Summary: • Grass-roots clubs can be fun while building a powerful ally with the County organization and for progressive candidates. • Working together, we can bring in more Democratic Party voters.
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