How to Make New Friends! (i.e., Recruiting New Group Members)

Local Organizing | April 20, 2017

This document will help you get started on creating a recruitment strategy and how to move prospective members through the stages of recruitment: from contact to consideration to connection to commitment.

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Thanks to Trump and his crazy cronies, we all have a lot to do these days! Building up the size of your local group is essential to effectively #standindivisible. Whether it’s to increase your capacity to tackle your goals, to make sure your group reflects the amazing diversity of your community, or to demonstrate the strength of your opposition, you need to be recruiting.

To help you grow your group, this document shares some best practices around member recruitment.

Getting Started

  • Designate a recruitment lead. This can be a committee or a single person, depending on the size of your group. They should be tasked with creating and reviewing the plan to grow your group, but everyone should be involved in the recruitment process.
  • Set a plan. We are all busy people these days, so we need to prioritize our recruitment work where we can have the most impact. Setting a plan, with goals, will help you stay focused on efforts that are effective.
  • Engage your current membership. Share the plan! Get buy-in, as your members will be your ambassadors for recruiting more volunteers.  

HOW TO WRITE A MEMBER RECRUITMENT PLAN

Making Contact

In getting the word out about your group and participation opportunities, be creative and go big. You should think about what works best in your community, but here are some popular options to consider:

  • Having a booth, flyers or some other type of presence at community events.
  • Using your group’s social media channels to talk about volunteer opportunities. Make sure to tap into hashtags that are popular in your community.
  • Posting flyers at community hubs and on college campuses.
  • Including member recruitment messaging in local media interviews.
  • Giving recruitment remarks at meetings or events for like-minded groups.
  • Posting recruitment events on community calendars and local websites—and of course don’t forget to put it on the Indivisible website!
  • If you’re seeking to improve your group’s diversity, talk to groups that focus on inclusivity or represent marginalized communities for their advice on outreach. If you’re approaching a group for the first time, you should start by seeking to learn about their work and needs, and how you might be able to support them. This should be the foundation for any potential partnership.

Most importantly, your current members are your most effective ambassadors for your group. Here are some suggestions of what your current members can do:

  • Bring-a-buddy meetings: encourage everyone to bring a friend to your regular meeting
  • House parties: invite people to someone’s home for a mixer or potluck to meet current and prospective members
  • Social network sharing: ask everyone to post a recruitment message on their personal channels

Note: Not all of your members may be able to participate in these activities. Remember to be sensitive to the considerations that different people may have in regards to personal safety and public involvement.

Moving to Consideration

Personal engagement helps move someone from tossing a flyer or an email in the “things to look at later” pile to seriously considering joining. In the Indivisible Guide, we share tips on how to have an “organizing conversation” to recruit them. Remember that the first step is to start the conversation around identifying shared values!

A couple other things to keep in mind:

  1. On a first date, you don’t (generally) ask someone to marry you. Think of member recruitment as a step by step approach to introduce them to the group’s values, purpose, and potential opportunities.
  2. Focus on the big picture of what your group is trying to achieve and how each member can personally have an impact.
  3. You don’t know until you ask. Don’t assume someone isn’t interested.
  4. Listen to what might be holding them back from saying yes so you can address their hesitations.
  5. Always bring it back to the shared values you’ve identified in the conversation.

A NOTE ON VETTING

Making a Connection

You’ll want to make sure that every new member who engages with you is ushered through the process of joining to help them understand your group and their potential role. This requires investing some time, but will pay off with active and committed members. Here are some things you can do:

  1. After someone has said they’re planning to attend your next meeting/event, give them a call (or text) beforehand to remind them and see if they have any questions.
  2. Encourage them to bring a friend. People feel more comfortable when they have someone in their support network with them, plus you get two new potential members!
  3. Make sure someone is at the door to greet any new attendees specifically.
  4. Have a handout or email that explains the various roles members can take on within the organization, and who they should contact to work on that project/committee.
  5. Run your meeting in a way that works for new people too. Check out our tips on that here.
  6. Follow-up the day after the meeting to thank them for coming, answer any questions, and agree to their next step.
  7. For those who aren’t ready to commit, offer ways to stay involved in other ways. Encourage them to sign up to your email list or like you on Facebook to keep informed of big developments or events. A low stream of information can build up to a commitment over time.

Commitment

So much about getting people to keep coming back is about making people feel like they are valued; it’s fun; and it’s worth their time. We’ll expand on member appreciation in future resources, but here’s a good baseline to make sure you’re hitting:

  1. Make it worth everyone’s time: Run efficient meetings. Offer members defined opportunities with clear directions and purpose. Be respectful that not everyone has the same amount of time to give and offer opportunities with varying levels of participation .
  2. Feeling valued: Dedicate a portion of your regular meetings to celebrating success. Use your closed Facebook or email groups to credit people for their hard work. Send thank you emails. Try to be specific with praise.
  3. Have fun: You are dedicated community members fighting the good fight every day, but we need to prepare for the long haul and make sure we don’t burnout. Have a social event: do a potluck in a park, attend a community fair or event together, recognize birthdays at team meetings, organize a happy hour at a local watering hole.