Imagine you’ve just joined the Anti-Cat League because you’re horrified at the carnage caused to Britain’s bird population by those cute felines whose pictures get everywhere online.
Those blasted cats may have the internet on their side, but the poor, threatened birds need some plucky supporter to help them survive.
You join online, you get a welcome email and then you get an invitation to “come campaigning” next weekend.
What on earth does that mean?
Will you be indoors, sat down and quiet – perhaps stuffing envelopes?
Will you be indoors, sat down and talking – perhaps calling people?
Will you be outdoors, hanging around in a group – perhaps standing on a stall?
Will you be outdoors, on your own – perhaps delivering leaflets?
Just what will campaigning with the Anti-Cat League involve?
Even if you’ve already got an idea of what animal-based campaigning organisations do – and all the more so if you are new to all this – it’s not at all clear what going campaigning means, whether it’ll be what you find fun, whether it’ll be easy or hard or even whether you’ll be inside or outside.
And so… if you are a Liberal Democrat activist welcoming new members and wanting to get them involved, don’t make the mistake of inviting them campaigning. Even that simple plain English word hides within it far too much assumed knowledge about how parties operate.
Be welcoming, offer a range of options (including coffee) – and be specific.
And then say thank you.