Campaign Corner: How do we recruit more members?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: How do we recruit more members?

Although the national political scene sets the backdrop against which members join, renew or leave, there is consistently a huge variation between the membership story in different local parties depending on their own levels of activity. Here then are three tips to help make your own local party be one of the over-performers rather than an under-performer:

1. Keep good records and ask helpers: People who are active supporters in some way are a good pool of people to ask. Make sure the local party keeps good records of who delivers leaflets, who comes to social events, who puts up posters and so on – and combines the name into one, up-to-date list. This is necessary as these people should get all the newsletters and invites to social events anyway, but in addition it gives you a great list to work through to ask people to join.

2. Work through your list of prospects, picking off the easiest ones first: whether it is the list from #1 or a list of regular Lib Dem voters, start with the easiest and quickest method first – send an email to those you can, including a link to join online straight away via Then refine the list to exclude those who respond (either positively or negatively) and drop off a letter to those remaining. Winnow down the list again, and follow-up with phone calls. Finally go for door-to-door calls. The latter are the most effective, but also the most time-consuming. Phone calls are not quite so effective and not quite so time consuming, but more so than the earlier options. That is why working your way through the techniques in order makes sense, as you then maximise the benefits from everyone’s time.

3. Cut the lapsing rate: Chances are, it isn’t really more members but a higher membership that is your goal – and so cutting the number of people who lapse helps get there too. The single most effective way to do that is to get more people to switch to paying their membership by direct debit. This also means they can pay their membership subscription in small monthly instalments – handy for people short of money and also a good way of encouraging better off members to give more overall.

Got any other tips? Please do share them in the comment thread below.

Want to know more about local campaigning? Campaigning In Your Community by myself and Shaun Roberts should be right up your street. It’s available for only £4 from ALDC and you can read an extract for free here.

Previous Campaign Corners have included:

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.


  • Cllr Tom Papworth 2nd Apr '12 - 3:54pm

    If you’re not knocking on doors, you won’t be recruiting members.

    Canvass, canvass and then canvass.

  • paul barker 2nd Apr '12 - 9:41pm

    Slightly off at an angle but one thing the party can do is be open about membership levels & especially which way they are moving. At the very least a short report every 3 months or so, published on LDV for example. Hopefully our rival parties would make snide comments if our membership was falling & we could then turn it round by asking for their figures.
    The natural instinct is for keeping this quiet but we should resist it, openess is our friend in the long run.

  • Richard Dean 2nd Apr '12 - 10:04pm

    Knocking on doors seems a very slow way of attracting new members, It could also have unintended bad consequences… for many people being hassled by a LibDem rep who wants money while all you want to do is relax in front of the TV does not make membership an attractive option. How much of the population does knocking reach? Less than a tenth of a percent I should think! I’m 60 years old and have never been visited by any party canvasser asking me to join.

    The party needs policies everyone can be happy with. It needs a happy image, not a tough one or a begging one or a pugnacious one. It needs fun events for the whole familiy, concerts, street parties, rallies, pop star endorsements. It needs apps. It needs YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. It needs busker-like operations in Saturday shopping centres. It needs TV ads. It needs to get people involved, and be responsive to what they say and need, and it needs to show this. It needs churches, salvation armies, songs, dances, and nice places to meet, that are not just about politics.

    Being 60, I don’t know the new word. It needs hip, hop, zip, zing, pzazz, jazz, soul, rock, roll, …. and boring things like relevance, humanity, softness, compassion, pride, a new concept of Britishness, ….

  • Cllr Tom Papworth 3rd Apr '12 - 11:14am

    @Richard Dean: You don’t knock on doors just to ask for membership. You knock on doors to get to know local residents and identify issues. While there, you ask whether they are supporters. If they are, you can begin a conversation about help or membership, but first and foremost you are there to introduce yourself and find out what they want from their local representative.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Apr '12 - 12:45pm

    @Cllr Tom Papworth. That’s even worse! First, it means the hapless elector is having to answer questions, without getting any tangible immediate benefit, instead of relaxing or getting ready to go out. Second, it gives no real check that the issues identified and opinions obtained are representative of a neighbourhood.

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