Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Why use the word 'member' in the context of fundraising?"

Here's what one very successful fundraiser had to say on this topic.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: the LP's use of the word "member"
Date: 7/11/2006, 11:41 AM
From: Rob Kampia
To: Wes

Hi Wes,

I thought I'd take a moment to summarize my thoughts about the use of the words "member" or "membership" that I expressed to you at the beginning of the LP convention in Portland.

As I mentioned at the microphone in the main convention hall on Sunday, I raise $20,000 a day for MPP -- every day, including weekends and holidays -- in addition to having recently raised $25,000 for the LP, plus $2,100 for each of five congressional candidates. With a total budget of $7,000,000 for 2006, MPP is the largest organization in the world that is solely dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition. I say all this only as a way of noting that I have some experience with raising money.

To my mind, there are two ways for the LP to view the word "member": To determine the number and distribution of voting delegates at the national convention, and to maximize the amount of money the LP raises.

When the LP determines the number of delegates each state may send to the LP's national conventions, it makes sense to make each state's number of delegates proportional to the number of people in each state who have donated, say, $25 or more to the national LP in, say, the last 12 months. Whether or not you call such donors "members" or not is immaterial, but it might be useful to call such people "members" -- or some other word -- as shorthand for "people who have donated $25 or more to the national LP in the last 12 months." In this sense, you'd be giving the word "member" a legal definition.

On the second question -- the use of the word "member" as it applies to fundraising -- I absolutely encourage the LP to use the word "member" in this arena. But, in this arena, the use of the word is merely rhetorical; it has no legal meaning.

Why use the word "member" in the context of fundraising? Because the American people -- through decades of exposure to nonprofit organizations, for-profit membership organizations, and almost any other type of organization -- associate the word "member" with the notion of "needing to donate annually in order to keep my membership current." In other words, asking someone to become a "member" of the LP is a powerful marketing tool because -- even though you're initially asking people to make only one donation -- you're also putting the LP in the morally upright position of being able to ask them to renew their "memberships" one year later; indeed, they will *expect* you to ask them to renew their "memberships" one year later (and a handful of times in between). The same expectation does not apply to, say, someone who donates money to an organization by buying a ticket to a benefit concert or buying a brownie at a bake sale.

In addition, someone who views himself or herself as a "member" of an organization is necessarily more mentally and emotionally invested than someone who merely "donates" money to an organization.

In sum, the word "member" is a gift to the LP from thousands of organizations that have worked together to define the word in a way that increases organizational revenues. The LP should accept this gift and use the words "member" and "membership" (in a non-legal sense) when building the LP's donor base in the months and years to come.

Please feel free to share these thoughts as you see fit. Thank you for reading this far ...

Sincerely,
Rob Kampia, Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
P.O. Box 77492, Washington, D.C. 20013
http://www.mpp.org

Please visit http://www.mpp.org/subscribe to sign up for MPP's free e-mail alerts.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Portland Delegates for Dues

Considering the steady drumbeat of propaganda put out by the so-called "Zero Dues" advocates, I was pleasantly surprised how many Portland convention delegates disagreed with the bad business decision of the former LNC to eliminate dues.

I conducted a survey of Portland convention attendees to gauge their support level for dues. I collected 99 responses, then completed one myself to make it an even 100 which makes the statistics easy to report. This was not a scientific survey, but I did attempt to include as many delegates as I could.

The survey is posted at: http://wesbenedict.com/dues_survey.pdf

More favored dues (51) than were against dues (29), with undecided (20).

Key to the list below:

State:
Two-letter abreviation (responses from 30 states)

Response to the question "Are you FOR og AGAINST Dues?":
1=Strongly support dues (29 responses)
2=Somewhat favor dues (22 responses)
3=Undecided, flexible, depends, other (20 responses)
4=Somewhat against dues (12 responses)
5=Strongly against dues (17 responses)

Delegate Status:
D=Delegate (95 responses)
A=Alternate Delegate (2 responses)
blank=Not a delegate or delegate status not indicated (3 responses)

Name:
Delegates amended the Bylaws to require roll call votes for all substantive LNC motions. This was largely a response of indignation to the secret ballot vote by the prior LNC which temporarily raised dues from $25 to $50. As dues is a substantive issue, I trust most delegates to the convention who responded to my survey will apply the same standard of openness to my survey results. If you want your name made secret, call me at (512) 442-4910 and I'll hide your name.

LNC Officers:
7 LNC officers with positions noted submitted responses.

State, Number, Delegate Status, Name, LNC Officer

AL 4 D Barbara Gordon
AL 4 D Deborah Gordon
AK 1 D Scott Kohlhaas
AZ 3 D Barry Hess
AZ 5 D George Squyres
AR 1 D Gerhard Langguth
CA 1 D Andrew Bourdon
CA 1 D Jerry Dixon
CA 1 D Jay Jones
CA 1 D Vibeke Seymour
CA 1 D Thomas Sipos
CA 2 D Elizabeth Brierly
CA 3 D Lois Garcia
CA 3 D Scott Lieberman Region 2 1st Alt
CA 5 D Bud Raymond
GA 3 D Mark Augustyn
IL 1 D Kenton McMillen
IL 2 D John Jascob
IL 3 D Val Vetter
IN 1 D Robert Everline
IN 2 D Greg Hertzsch
IN 2 D James O'Gallagher
IN 2 D Mike Sylvester
IN 2 D Karena Sylvester
IN 4 D Sheri Sharlow
IN 5 D Charles Geckler
IN 5 D Laura Rutherford
IN 5 D John Rutherford
IN 5 D Todd Singer
IA 3 D Edward Wright
KS 5 D Rob Hodgkinson
KY 2 D Ken Moellman
MD 1 D Steve Boone
MD 3 D Mick Sarwark
MI 1 D James Hudler
MI 1 D Jeremy Linden
MI 2 D Nathan Allen
MI 3 D Andrew Hall
MI 3 D Robert Schubring
MI 4 D Elizabeth Bagwell
MI 4 D Lawrence W Johnson
MI 5 D Lawrence W Johnson (I guess I didn't say not to vote twice)
MS 2 D Gregory Arrigo
MT 3 D Roger Roots
NV 3 D Brendan Trainor
NH 5 D Brendan Kelly
NJ 2 D Dan Karlan At-Large Rep
NY 1 D M Carling Region 2 Rep
NY 2 D Alden Link
NY 4 D RVKS
NC 2 D Bernard Carman
NC 2 D Joy Elliot
OH 1 D David Macko
OH 2 D Kevin Knedler
OR 1 D Edith McDaniel
OR 1 D Don McDaniel
OR 1 D Carla Pelaer
OR 2 D Inessa Hamilton-Lee
OR 2 D Lars Hedbor
OR 2 D Steve Pearson
OR 3 James Foster
OR 3 D Richard Whitehead
OR 4 D Derek Bradley
OR 4 D Thomas Rowlette
OR 5 D Jerry Defoe
PA 3 D Michael Robertson
SC 5 D Jeff Dimit
SC 5 D Steward Flood Region 4 Alt
SC 5 D Timothy Moultrie
TX 1 D Wes Benedict Region 6 Rep
TX 1 D Matt Finkel
TX 1 D Nancy Neale Region 6 Alt
TX 2 D Jon Airheart
TX 2 D Emily Cowan
TX 2 D Frederick Drew
TX 3 D Guy McLendon
TX 5 D John Shuey
UT 1 D Willy Marshall
UT 3 D Rob Latham
VT 4 D Hardy Machia Region 7 Rep*
VA 1 D Elizabeth Bowles
VA 1 D William Redpath National Chair
VA 1 D Shelley Tamres
VA 1 D Marianne Volpe
WA 1 D Sharon Ayres
WA 1 A Jeffry Fisher
WA 1 D Robert Hill
WA 2 D Richard Bonesteel
WA 2 D Peter Wilkie
WA 3 D Ruth Bennett
WA 3 D Ruth Bennett
WA 3 David Carson
WA 3 D Judi First
WA 4 A Mikael Mortensen
WA 4 D Arne Mortensen
WA 5 D Dan Goebel
WA 5 D Brett Wilhelm
WA 5 D Michael Wilson
WI 4 D Jeremy Keil At-Large Rep
?? 1 Anonymous

* Macia checked 3 and 5, so I assigned 4 as an average.
Judi First of Washinton wrote the comment "don't like the limitations of the choices" so I assigned her a 3.

I attempted to get these surveys out to every delegate (there were about 315 total). However, this was admittedly not a scientific survey.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Texas Two-Step Turnaround 2

On October 30, 2003, I e-mailed all 59 County LP Chairs and Executive Committee members listed on our lptexas.org website. I explained the upcoming 45,540 signature petition drive we faced and asked for volunteer coordinators and signature commitments.

Much to my surprise, AOL froze my e-mail account!

I had to phone tech support to have it re-instated. They had frozen it because nearly half of the e-mail addresses had bounced. Not to be defeated, I picked up the phone and started calling our county chairs. Depressingly, many of their phone numbers were either disconnected, gave fax tones, or rang continuously without any answering system.

I began to fully realize the mess our state party organization had become. For the first time in 16 years we faced a petition drive for ballot access, and our state and county organizations were in shambles. The state database volunteer had resigned and our website was a wreck with outdated contact information. A few months later the state treasurer ceased activities. The state secretary hadn’t published minutes for months. All of the officers had been at each others' throats but were done bickering and basically went AWOL. While many of those individuals were excellent county activists and some continue to contribute significantly today, for whatever the reason, the group dynamics at the time proved dysfunctional.

Fortunately, a ballot access committee formed with Pat Dixon at the helm and took charge of the petition drive. None of the state party officers were on that committee. Without being able to do justice to the heroic efforts of the people who made this happen, I'll just say that in May 2004 the LP of Texas turned in over 80,000 signatures and qualified for the ballot.

At the 2004 state convention, most ballot access committee leaders took positions on the state committee. I was hired for the newly created position of Executive Director.

Shortly after taking my position as Executive Director, I proceeded to work with our new Secretary, Laura Coker-Garcia, to update our website contacts. On July 1, 2004, I phoned the 800 number listed on our website and left a voicemail to see what would happen. The message on the 800 number mentioned our former (2002) candidate for governor as well as another person’s phone number which I tried, but it was disconnected.

With additional investigation I was able to find who had access to the voicemail box for the 800 number. Upon checking it, I found it had 6 months' worth of unchecked messages and there had probably been more that were automatically deleted. A sampling of transcripts of some of those voicemails:

“This is Michael M@@@ 210-533-####; want to know if y'all have 28th congressional district candidate; I would run as libertarian. . . .”

“Ross, interested in helping LP with campaigning in El Paso”

“Ken F@@@, Dallas TX 214-275-####. I called R H and his phone is disconnected. Chris J's message center doesn't give anything to leave a message on. I'm in Arlington and want to get a hold of where the Gary Nolan campaign meeting will be. Maybe I'll get on the computer one day.”

“Albert Wood with Valley Morning Star, we're doing series of stories . . .”

“Hi, my name is Melvin W@@@, I'm trying to find a petition to sign.”

“Hi, this is Wes Benedict, I was calling about the...the-uh...this phone number...the uh 800-422-1776 [gee I sound weird on tape]. I'm curious who gets these messages. If you'd give me a call at 512-442-4910. Thanks a lot and I hope this voicemail works. Thanks, bye.”

In August and September, I was bombarded by requests for contact information for our November 2004 candidates. Unfortunately, much of the contact information I had was outdated. The press was begging for phone numbers and photos of our candidates, but I only had that information for some of them.

While some of you may find this information depressing, I found it truly inspiring. Libertarians constantly whine about the lack of press coverage, but what I found was that the press was begging to cover us if we would only help them a little. Volunteers contact us begging to help if we will only give them something worthwhile to do. We make it extremely difficult for voters to find out about our candidates, yet many voters continue to vote Libertarian.

Recently, some Libertarian activists have argued extensively over the failure of the Libertarian Party to achieve greater success and have blamed things such as our platform, the membership pledge, and plenty more.

I’m not sure how much our platform has to do with our success or failure, but I’ll bet my boots that unanswered phones and outdated websites are problems we can all agree on.
Have you heard of Dallas (Dallas County) or Fort Worth (Tarrant County) Texas? Pretty big cities, right? Now check out their Libertarian websites:

http://lpdallas.org/

http://www.liberty4all.net/

(Note: these websites might have changed since this was posted.)

Nobody from Dallas or Fort Worth gets to tell me why the LP is not doing better without explaining this first.

Despite our continued localized weaknesses, the LP of Texas has a record number of candidates this year, is on track for record fundraising, and our party and candidates are getting record amounts of media coverage.

Step One of the Texas Two Step turnaround was electing new officers, getting our state party communications and database management functioning, and recruiting an army of candidates. There was no magic bullet. Just hard work, common sense, and attention to detail.

Step Two is still in progress for the Texas LP. I’ll let you know how Step Two turns out in November.

Step One is just getting under way for the National Libertarian Party. I urge you to contact your state chairs and LNC Representatives and tell them to focus on Step One. Clean up their unfinnished business before starting new projects they can't handle. No more gimmicks. No more excuses. No more silver bullets. No more pretending to dance when they're barely able to stand up without hurting themselves.

Lots of obvious easy fixes have me bullish on the National LP and I'm excited about getting to work. Stay tuned for details . . .

(disclosure: my boots are hiking boots and I'm not a dancer)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Elected Regional LNC Representative

I want to thank the delegates from the states who agreed to form the Southwest Region at the Portland National Convention for electing me to serve on the Libertarian National Committee. Nancy Neale of Texas was elected Alternate.

The following state delegations agreed to join the Southwest Region:

Arizona
Arkansas
Louisiana
Nevada
New Mexico
Texas
Utah

I hope you all traveled home from Portland safely. I look forward to working with you to build the Libertarian Party's effectiveness at the local, state, regional, and national levels.