You don’t have to talk for long with a group of Liberal Democrat activists about the huge surge in party membership since the general election (up by a third and rising) for the phrase ‘leaflet delivery cult’ to get a mention.
In its origins, it’s a worthy and useful phrase – a bit of gentle mocking of the idea that the only thing you ask supporters to do is to deliver leaflets, the only thing you worry about organising is leafleting and the only way you campaign is by putting out leaflets.
But you know what? Leafleting is very good way of getting supporters involved, it is the organisational bedrock of all our winning MP campaigns in May and it is a very useful campaign tactic.
Indeed for many supporters and new members, it’s an extremely good way of getting involved, requiring as it does fewer conversations with strangers about politics than doorstep or telephone canvassing, and involving getting out in the fresh air for rather more exercise than you get with clerical help sessions.
The mistake, however, is simply to greet someone with a pile of leaflets.
Far better to great them with a chat and a coffee. [Ed: Or a Diet Coke. Those Lib Dem Friends of Diet Coke folk are not to be crossed.]
Delivering should be an option as you chat and find out how they might want to be involved, just not the only option.
UPDATE: Here are some top tips from HQ’s Al Ghaff on what works best for welcoming in new members.
Best practice from a number of local parties suggest that the best model for new member engagement consist of an exclusive social event for new members, followed by an all members’ social event. Although, these are social events, but, During new members were asked two key questions:
- Why they’ve joined the Party?
- How they’d like to volunteer for the Party?
The next step is to organise an all members’ Strategy (or development) meeting. During which members discuss a number of ways to revive the party and start winning again. Main themes of these discussions are focused on the following areas:
- New member recruitment. How to grow the local party further by recruiting new members.
- Running important local and national campaigns. Popular local campaigns seems to be housing and education with Human Rights Act, Snoopers’ Charter & Europe as the popular national ones.
- Future elections. Some of our new members (and some long standing members who’ve never stood for elections) are keen to stand for elections or to actively help with running the campaign.
- Members were then asked that given their skills set or area of interest, how they’d be able to contribute. Some local parties which were inactive before the election now have Facebook and Twitter accounts!
A few local parties have even done leafleting with their new members, but the importance of leafleting were explained to new members i.e. winning elections and changing people’s lives locally.
Although ending all meetings/sessions with a drink is kind of ideal for me, this may not work best to attract a more diverse crowd.