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Recruiting Your People Online

There are people in your community who care about the same things you do—you just need to find them. Often, you find people by doorknocking, holding events, and following up with one-to-one conversations. Using digital organizing tools for recruitment, including online petitions, texting, and social media, can boost your on-the-ground efforts and help you keep your list organized.

Your group might look something like this, with people involved at different levels.

Core Elements of Recruitment
  • Recruit for your actions, but build your group. Don’t just try to get people to sign your petition or come to your event and leave it at that. Always be recruiting people to keep taking action and become a bigger part of your group.
  • Make the right ask. Think about recruiting people as asking them to take one step at a time. People become supporters by taking easy steps at first, and bigger and bigger steps as time goes on. Ask them to make an appropriate next step, getting them a little bit more engaged each time.
  • Follow up is key. Keep in touch. Often people need to be asked more than once, so don’t get discouraged if people say no the first time. Talk to people in-person at your events, follow up with the people you recruit, and invite people to get more involved.

Action Network: A Recruitment Tool for Activists
Action Network is a tool designed to help you build your power online. You can use Action Network to find and recruit new activists, keep in touch with supporters, target decision makers, and keep your list well organized along the way. Learn more and get started.

Digital Recruitment Tools

Make sure you’re using tools that will reach the people you need to reach. Keep in mind that not all of them will be useful all the time. Prioritize the ones you think will best reach the people you’re trying to recruit.

Recruitment Case Study

Imagine you’re working on a campaign to push your town to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. Your group right now consists of four committed volunteers, but you know you need more people to convince your town to take action.

Step 1: Start a Petition.
A petition is the best way to start to build your list and identify people in your town who support your work and are interested in joining your campaign. Online petitions are best done in coordination with doorknocking or clipboarding. Tips:

  • Think about the information you want to gather from people so you can do good follow up recruitment later. For example, make sure you collect emails, phone numbers, and any other contact information you might need. It’s best to collect cell phone numbers so you can follow up by text.
  • Your petition will only go as far as you spread it. Ask your friends and neighbors to sign on and share the petition far and wide. Post it on your own social media and email it to everyone you know in town.
  • Keep the language simple so it’s easy for people to sign on.
  • Use the same language on your online petition and your doorknocking petition so you can add your lists together to give to the decision maker.

Step 2: Hold a Great Event
Now that you have a list of people who are interested, you want to invite them to be a part of your group. Plan an open meeting, an ice cream social, a film screening, or any other event where you can meet people in person. Then do plenty of outreach to your list. This is best done in coordination with on-the-ground tactics like flyering, mailings, etc. How to hold a successful event:

  • Hold your event fairly soon after your first contact with people you’re inviting (soon after collecting petition signatures, for example).
  • Create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know in town. Then ask the people in your group to do the same.
  • Send 2-3 emails to your list to invite them to your event. Have people RSVP (an online form is best).
  • Send a text message the week of the event to invite people who haven’t responded. Nearly 100% of text messages are readmuch more than email.
  • Two days before, text or call the people who RSVP’d to remind them.
  • At your event, always have a sign-in sheet and meet as many people as you can!

Step 3: Follow Up with Attendees
Right after an event is the best time to follow up. Send everyone an email thanking them for coming and ask them to take the next step in the campaign. That could be getting a lawn sign for your campaign, coming to a volunteer night, or joining your next meeting. Tips:

  • Stay in touch. Keep following up with people and ask them to keep taking action.
  • Keep track of who came to your events, volunteered, or took action so that you can make an appropriate next ask.
  • When you meet people who you think have leadership potential, call them and ask for a one-to-one meeting where you can get to know more about them and recruit them to take on a bigger role.

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