Increasing Party Membership: attracting community activists
11 February 2011 2 Comments
We need to identify potential members to the party if we are to start attracting them to increase membership. Those already involved in politics but not members are the most likely to join a party if they see the benefit of doing so. Those already involved in their communities are potential members so what could we do to attract them?
The motivations determining people’s involvement in community activism are generally of an altruistic nature. As such, community activists speak of getting involved in community based projects because they want to make a difference to their area. This ‘difference’ comes in many different formats but they do have a passion for their causes and get involved with the hope that they will be able to make a positive contribution to their communities. Part of their motivation derives from a desire to “belong” and to be part of something durable.
Political parties are in a good position to capitalise on this as they already have local parties which are involved in the local area. The issue maybe that the political focus is too narrow for many to feel it is making a positive contribution to the local area. By expanding the focus to being a practical help to local people the party may seem more relevant to community activists who may then join the party.
Personal benefits are often cited as motivations such as that of “meeting like-minded people” and of “feeling good about helping other people”. So if the Lib Dems were more involved in community work this offers a good incentive for these people to join.
Such a strategy has not gone unnoticed by Labour who have plans to set up 10,000 community activists in their name to make the party more relevant to the local area. Labour may have a history of being involved in their local areas as the Labour movement and the Labour Clubs have been important aspects of many communities. Times have changed and this now needs to be renewed. This offers the Lib Dems a chance to become more relevant to the local areas, particularly as they have a good grounding in community politics already.
Another way to get people involved is to use the Time Banks. By Lib Dem members giving time to Time Banks they will accrue time back through other volunteers. You can request these volunteers to help out on some campaigning issue and then involve them in the local party. No time is lost as the time you use, you get back with the other volunteer, who may then go on to join or put more hours in. It shows a practical application of the local political party to the local area, a commitment to the community, and a commitment to initiatives we believe in and would like to expand.