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Composed by: Margaret Murphy (President of the University of Iowa Democrats during the 2010-2011 school-year)
RECRUITING MEMBERS y If you do not know enough people to form a core group there are several resources you can reach out to. You can contact the Iowa Democratic Party or Organizing for America and ask if there are any active volunteers at your school. If there aren·t any, attend other progressive student organization meetings (LGBT, environmental, women and minority issue groups) in an effort to recruit members. You can also take political science or liberal themed classes to meet other students. y Appoint yourself or one of your core group members to organize an outreach plan. Everyone should help out with outreach, because it is essential to your organization. At the beginning of the year make sure you have a presence during the first few weeks of classes to build for your first meeting. Have members talk to large political science classes, pass out flyers with meeting information between classes and have a table at your school·s student organization fair. Also send members to attend progressive student organization meetings to inform them of your first meeting and ask if they would like to collaborate throughout the year. Attending their meetings will also give you insight into how meetings run. y When advertising an event or meeting use as many outlets as possible. Set up a website, facebook page, twitter and email list for advertisement. Have people write down their email addresses when signing in at a meeting and add them to this list. Then, request them to follow or like the group·s twitter or facebook. For each meeting and event post the information on all of these outlets. This spreads the word and increases the chance that people will attend the event. THE ORGANIZATION·S FRAMEWORK y When determining your purpose and goals keep in mind you will be recruiting students, try and pick themes that they will be passionate about. Social issues, education and the environment are appealing, but you should also think about what issues are unique to your school and area and how you can relate your group to those. For instance, as the President of the University of Iowa Democrats, I built a letter-writing event on the education cuts and tuition increases, since it affected every student at my school, but at a private school this would not have been successful. Utilizing issues that directly affect your area is an easy way to get students involved. y When you register at your school ask them about resources for student organizations. Find out information regarding if you are able to request funding, can have office space, can have access to an email list for members and how to look for a faculty advisor. Some may
even have workshops or meetings you can attend on how to start a student organization. Every school is different, and this is the best way to learn about your school·s process and resources for student organizations. Contact various democratic organizations to let them know about your new organization. Talk to your local county democrats and elected officials to use them as a resource. You can also ask them about local party members that would be helpful to your organization.
FOR WHEN MEETINGS BEGIN y Keep records of everything! Attendance sign in sheets for meetings and events and meeting minutes should all be kept together from every meeting. This will help keep your group organized and help you in the future. At the end of the year, you can look back and determine what meetings were successful and what events were popular, so you can make sure to continue to do similar activities in the future. y Use icebreakers at the beginning of every meeting. This builds a sense of unity within the group and allows for people to get to know each other. The more members become friends, the more successful the group will be. Planning a social event, like dinner or watch party for a democratic event will help members get to know one another. y Keep up with current events to come up with ideas for what your organization can do. When there are no elections the group can campaign for, addressing issues is a good alternative. Keep up with the state and federal legislature·s actions and come up with events that coincide. y Have a speaker at your first meeting. It is a good way to build support and increase attendance. Speakers could be your state representative or senator, a local activist or a city council member. You can contact the IDP or OFA for suggestions. OTHER y Do not be scared to talk to the press. This can give the organization a lot of advertisement. You should also encourage members to write letters to the editors of local newspapers to spread the group·s name and democratic message. Make sure anyone who writes a letter should state that he or she is a member of the college democrat organization so the name of your group spreads. y CYDI and members of College Democrats from other schools are there to answer any questions. We all know what you are going through, and how much uncertainty can come with leading an organization, so feel free to ask us anything!