The points listed here are a brief outline of the goals, tasks and activities displayed by strong, active County Parties.
This prescription can be used to ‘jump-start’ a County Party to achieve new levels of success.
Organizational Structure and Meetings
- Meet regularly in non-election years, and monthly during election years.
- Try to have 10 or more people attending every meeting.
- Invite guest speakers and plan engaging activities at meetings to attract more attendees.
- Plan social get-togethers for area Democrats in public venues to attract newcomers who want to meet like-minded people.
- Attend meetings and events where under-represented people gather and learn what their concerns and motivations are and invite them to be involved.
- Conduct voter registration actions at local schools and seek out politically-minded students for volunteering.
Fundraising and Budget
- Draft an annual budget: Set goals for the year and make a plan for how to raise needed funds. People are often more willing to donate when they know how the money will be put to use.
- Plan a new fundraising event each year, in addition to the tried-and-true barbecue or picnic. Try new ways to invite and attract new people.
- Ask for donations at every meeting and gathering to cover costs and more, by offering a reminder that their contributions are the only means for funding party activities and supporting candidates.
- Donate the maximum allowable amount to their candidates every year.
- Recruit tech-savvy volunteers (sometimes a great leadership opportunity for high school and college students) to manage the County Party website and/or social media.
- Understand the value of their website as a communication and organizing tool.
- Actively push information to voters using all available media: their website, Facebook page, Twitter, letters-to-the-editor, local newspaper columns, printed materials, and email.
- Make news by holding candidate forums and issues discussions, and posting the details in real time on Facebook and Twitter.
- Have an active letter-writing campaign that collaborates on sending letters to local and statewide publications pro-actively or in response to letters written by political opponents.
Campaigns and Elections
- Recruit and support Democratic candidates for local offices (partisan and nonpartisan) — commissions, school board, city council, etc. — to build the bench of candidates for higher office.
- Understand the value of canvassing (by phone and door knocking) to identify the political leanings of voters listed in the VAN as “NAV/no data/unknown” to streamline future campaign efforts and reach all those prone to vote for Democratic candidates.
- Build and regularly update a contact list of area volunteers and ask for their help in recruiting others.
- Conduct voter registration drives in apartments, senior housing, high schools, colleges, and during public events to engage with new voters and promote the importance of political action.
- Conduct regular phone banks and door knocks to reach voters and identify supporters throughout the election cycle.
- Provide volunteers to other Democratic candidates and groups needing help with their canvassing efforts.
- Understand the great value the VAN provides to local, legislative, statewide, and national campaigns for reaching supporters, potential volunteers and likely Democratic voters.
- Emphasize the need for county officers and activists to acquire skills in using the VAN.
- Educate candidates on the need to better target their voter contact efforts by using the VAN to easily find likely supporters and adding new information as it is gathered.
- Look for and attend trainings that will increase the skills and success of your county party leaders and activists
- Train activists in techniques for canvassing by phone and at the doors.
- Ensure that officers, PCPs, and activists are well-versed in party rules and in Campaign Finance regulations.
- Offer orientation sessions for new PCPs.
- Provide training for volunteers doing VAN data entry.
- Train volunteers in procedures used at meetings for credentials, resolutions, etc.
- Take action to improve your group’s performance year to year, looking for ways to do things better. Or, try something entirely new!
- Set concrete goals and deadlines for volunteer recruitment, money raised, website visits, Facebook ‘likes,’ etc. Celebrate success and then raise the bar higher!
- Compete and win against Republicans in other ways when winning elections is difficult: a bigger and better booth at the County Fair, more lawn signs per square mile, best locations for meetings, better website, more letters-to-the-editor, etc.
- Encourage leadership by rotating responsibilities among the officers and other volunteers to keep everyone engaged, energized and ready to tackle new challenges and opportunities.