This post combines two how-to guides from Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland): Recruiting new members and How to retain members.
Recruiting new members
Find and recruit new members for your local group.
Build your mailing lists
They are so important for getting people to support your actions and attend your events.
- Keep your mailing list up-to-date and regularly add to it.
- Capture people’s contact information at your events.
- Use social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to promote your mailing list.
Plan a regular series of events which you can promote to your mailing lists. Never miss an opportunity to tell your supporters about a success, an event, or an action they can take.
Also, ensure your website and social media channels have up-to-date contact details.
When you organise events, always invite interested people to get involved with you on a longer-term basis. Invite them to your next meeting, let them know if you have any upcoming actions, and most importantly – get their contact details.
Listen to people
Ask them what they are interested in and how they might like to get involved.
Find out what skills they have and think how they could benefit the group.
If someone declines to join your group – or you get the feeling they are unsure – ask them if they’d like to join your mailing list instead. Let them know they are always welcome to get more involved, but don’t pressure them.
Community mapping helps you get a better picture of who you know and don’t know. Use it to decide who you approach to be a part of your group. Please see our How to find allies guide for more details.
- Have at least 2 or 3 entries in the diary so you can invite people at one event to the next one.
- Ask attendees to bring 2 friends with them.
- Hold your local group meetings at regular slots in the same venue so that people can easily find you. Preferably this location would be agreeable to people from a broad range of backgrounds and cultures, i.e. not a pub.
- Try and get someone involved who is good at social media.
- Advertise roles that you need to fill. Turn your weakness into a targeted recruitment drive.
How to retain members
Once your group is seen to be regularly doing things, you’ll find recruitment gets much easier.
Here are some suggestions on how to keep people coming back for more.
- Do things. People don’t want to sit in endless meetings. They want to be productive and have an impact.
- Enjoy yourselves too. Make it as much about socialising as campaigning. Be friendly and positive. Celebrate your successes and don’t always feel like you have to be attending to business.
- Keep your meetings light.Don’t get bogged down in process and minutes. People don’t want to feel like they are at work.
- Listen to people. Don’t always be the one dishing out instructions.
- Get the most out of the group’s skills and interests. Find out who wants to do what. This is a key principle of organising.
- Some are happy to follow. Make sure these people have tasks to do and aren’t left feeling redundant.
- Work together on coherent projects. Try to get a balance between people’s self interests and collective causes.
- Don’t take on too much. Be sensitive of what people can and can’t do. Watch out for burnout and encourage people to take time off if they need to.
- Create a strong social bond.
- Make time to grab a coffee with different members. Get to know them, share your personal stories and find out what makes them tick.
For this guide and others by Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland) see their website – How to Guides: Running local campaigns.