Changes to payment for Connect and Salesforce

Since becoming Chief Executive, I am trying to streamline our operations and cut out unnecessary waste.  With limited resources, we need to be agile and dynamic, to simplify processes and maximise the time, money and effort we devote to campaigning.

Currently, local parties are either invoiced or debited for Connect and Salesforce. Processing all this and then chasing it up involves significant staff time and pointless bureaucracy.

Worse still, there are grotesque and unjustifiable anomalies in the sums that local parties, both large and small, are paying for these digital tools. Some are even getting them free.

It is also unfair for smaller local parties with lower incomes to be paying the same (more in some cases!) as larger local parties with much larger incomes. If we are going to develop winnable seats for the next 10-20 years, we must help smaller parties to grow.

This is why we are removing the need to invoice or set up Direct Debits for Connect and Salesforce for members in England & Wales.

From the first quarter of this year, local parties will pay for Connect and Salesforce through their membership service fees. The current basic service fee rate of 3% of membership income for local parties will increase to 5%, with 4% being deducted for Connect and Salesforce.

Each local party will be notified in their quarterly e-mail from the Membership Team how much money they have paid for digital tools.

We are still in discussions with the Scottish party about how this change will work for them and hope to have these discussions concluded soon.

Under this system, local parties will pay for these tools (at a hugely subsidised rate) irrespective of whether they currently use them. To comply with tough new data standards (‘GDPR’) coming into force in May, and to maximise our campaigning cohesion, we really need local parties using the same systems.

Looking forward, we also aim to include a website platform in this scheme. We constantly try to improve our digital tools in the light of feedback from local parties, and to this end we aim to bring forward a new website option later this year or early next.

On a personal note, my first few months as Chief Executive have brought many challenges, but I have been heartened by the passion of so many members who battle on fighting for their communities. I see my role as Chief Executive to make your life easier, and LDHQ’s purpose as being to support you in any way we can. Please get in touch if you have ideas of how we can do this more effectively.

* Sir Nick Harvey was the Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon from 1992 until 2015 and Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 2010 to 2012

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  • Sean Bamforth 15th Mar '18 - 12:57pm

    Couple of things.

    I’m dissapointed with the wording on this. You say you’re increasing membership income from 3% to 5%, and digital tools then cost 4%. Why not just say that you’re cutting membership income down to 1% and bundling a number of digital tools.

    Local parties get such a small fraction of the membership fees anyway, that this just feels like a bit of a smack in the face. These tools should be paid for nationally, not locally.

    Of the digital tools you mention, Salesforce is less useful to local parties than for yourself. It’s used for entering PPERA compliance and looking up member details. How come local parties now have to pay for this at all?

    In the list of digital tools that are not bundled in this is Nation Builder and Xero. Both of these would be useful to be bundled. I’m guessing that we will still have to pay separately for these. This, again, feels like an unfairness.

  • Martin Land 15th Mar '18 - 1:32pm

    So local parties who use EARS because Connect is a piece of c**p are now going to have to pay for it anyway. Democratic Centralism as opposed to Liberal Democracy?

  • Laurence Cox 15th Mar '18 - 2:19pm

    What is wrong with HQ paying for these and providing them to local parties at no cost. When you consider all the work that volunteers do for the Party, it seems wrong that HQ is only interested in taking more and more from local parties for this (up from 3% to 5%).

  • “we aim to bring forward a new website option later this year or early next.”

    That’ll please Prater Raines… Although I suppose you could just make Tim Prater a staffer.

    Otherwise, my comments mirror Sean’s, especially the ones wondering why bundle Connect and Salesforce but not Nationbuilder or Xero.

  • This is a really excellent posting by Nick – thanks, Nick for your work and also taking time to post it here and no doubt working through the bureaucratic issues involved. I am massively heartened by the fact that Nick has posted this here and that he has done this. It seems a massively sensible way to go.

    There is an issue about keeping innovation by local parties – most of these types of things started by pioneering and innovate local parties. And we mustn’t stifle innovation at a local level. There is a slight issue over EARS v Connect but in general now it seems that modern campaign involves a single database program used through out the party. I think it was a good piece of work (and I suspect difficult given the internal politics involved) by Hilary Stephenson et al some years to invite tenders for a single system which NGP/VAN won with connect.

  • I am glad to see this going through. I understand that some people will not like this as it is something coming top down, but for small local parties, it is a huge gift that is needed.

    Having something like NationBuilder bundled in as well will further save us time and effort trying to comply with GDPR.

    I Understand some have their preferences, but with GDPR I don’t see much of away round it without massive work at the local level. Does EARS sync with Connect? If not then you may not like it, but for national to remove someone when requested (as required by GDPR) then it is needed.

    Not sure I understand why Xero is needed unless you need it for compliance. The bundled tools should be what is needed / make life easier to comply with rules.

  • Cllr Fran Oborski MB 18th Mar '18 - 4:22pm

    Wyre Forest LibDems are using a local Member who is a website designer to do our new website as we cannot afford either Nationbuildte or Prater Raines.
    We much prefer EARS but are told we must use Connect even tho we prefer not to use mobile d vices when out canvassing and want to use Canvass Cards and then enter info into Connect.

  • Sadie smith 18th Mar '18 - 5:33pm

    Please get user friendly stuff as far as possible. Tim Prater seems to manage nice simple stuff.
    I would really like local Parties to be able to work as simply as possible.
    When I first encountered the name Salesforce, I thought it was a joke.
    Hope you are enjoying the job.
    Worth thinking about new or growing groups. I was a founder member of a Liberal Party and no way would it have developed if HQ had decided all the systems..

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