Simple Socials to Boost Motivation
I’ve been having real fun recently out campaigning for the Manchester Central by-election. Even last week in the torrential rain, on my own, soaked to the skin, in the pitch dark, leaflets rapidly turning into papier mache. Obviously today was much better – a sunny and bright October day, cool but not cold, with friends, and nice and dry.
I’ve gotten out of the habit of getting out there and campaigning. It all seemed too much a chore, or I didn’t have the energy, or I thought my time was better spent organising things, usually from behind a computer. I’d gotten out of the loop, and wasn’t feeling very inspired.
One of the things that turned things around for me is the social events I’ve been organising in and around Manchester. These monthly pub events were advertised on Facebook, Twitter, Flock Together and e-mail because doing postal members newsletters means going through near-defunct local parties begging for cash, and communicating with some of your members is better than not communicating with any. These events have routinely seen 5-15 people getting together with no campaigning or fund-raising agenda. This has been a good way to rekindle old friendships and make new ones, to catch up on the gossip and have some fun. It seems to be encouraging a few people to be more active.
Today we actually tied a social in with campaigning – just over an hour before the campaign session started at the by-election HQ, we met up in a nearby coffee shop and half a dozen people showed up for a chat and a drink. Many of them would have come along campaigning anyway, but given that I didn’t see most of them after we went on our separate delivery rounds, it was great to spend a bit of time together at the beginning. We’ll be repeating it for the rest of the by-election campaign in addition to other events.
I’m sure some will criticise me for not being dedicated enough to slog on without the social aspect, saying that an hour drinking coffee is an hour not door-knocking or delivering. I’ll admit that I’m not as dedicated as I once was to the on-the-ground stuff. But I’m still a lot more dedicated than most party members; using uber-dedicated Lib Dems as the benchmark makes ordinary people feel unwelcome, so it’s important to treat our volunteers like human beings and make sure they’re getting something other than sore feet from their involvement.
Doing things that motivate your campaigners means you get better campaigning. This isn’t news to anybody, I’m sure, but this practical example may be instructive even if the theory is obvious. These social events seem to have had a real positive effect on people’s enthusiasm and commitment, in a relatively short period of time. All this for very little organisation and zero money – apart from the 5 quid I spent at Lib Dem Image buying an 8″ high Lib Dem flagpole for newcomers to identify our table at social events. Here’s some top tips for organising social events:
- Organise on Facebook because it’s easy to invite non-members too. Now Lib Dem Voice has a sidebar of upcoming Flock Together events it’s worth listing events there too – but make sure the city name is in the title of the event, and put the Facebook URL in the listing.
- Make sure your promotion for the event makes it clear that it’s welcome to people who haven’t been before, highlight the easy way of locating the group in the venue, and include a contact mobile number. When new people turn up, make an effort to welcome and involve them, and steer them away from the people who will bore or depress them (you know who they are!). Get photos of people having a good time, and use them to advertise your next event.
- Mix it up a bit - pubs, coffee shops, milkshake bars; midweek and weekend events; daytime and evening. Do them as frequently as you like, provided you’re routinely reaching critical mass. And make sure there’ll always be at least two people you know will be there.