Holding Effective Local Group meetings
Holding Effective Local Group meetings
Choosing the Location and Frequency
For many groups having one meeting in a central location once a month is the best course of action. This is always the best course of action for new local groups, as it begins to establish a pattern of doing something every month, and in the first two months there may not be a lot of outreach activities.
Some groups may find it necessary to alternate between two meeting locations if the Local Group has a large area of operations. The effect of this is that each sub-group has bi-monthly meetings. This course of action has not been widely tested yet, but it is expected that it may make more time for outreach activities, as most of our volunteers have a limited number of hours that they can commit to making the FSP work.
Possible locations for the Local Group meeting include Restaurants, Parks, Libraries, Coffeehouses, and even Firing Ranges. Restaurants have been the traditional meeting place for many clubs. Parks can be good in some locations. You should make sure that some covered areas are available in case of an outburst of nature. Firing Ranges often have classrooms that are available for around $10 an hour. In addition many members are gun enthusiasts, and being co-located with a range might encourage attendance. The number of people expected at the meeting should determine the size and type of the location.
Setting the Meeting Format
It is important to have a meeting agenda printed out to be given to all meeting attendees. It will help keep the meeting on track, and people will leave with a sense of accomplishment after all the points have been attended to. Have new attendees introduce themselves, and explain how they heard of the FSP, and what convinced them to join.
Try to get many people involved in the conversations in the meeting. We can always use new ideas. It also makes them feel more connected to the group.
Try to have a new speaker once every three months. Meetings that have noteworthy speakers tend to bring the members out of the woodwork. Some good sources for speakers are FSP officers (both past and present), Economics or Political professors from colleges, or other Liberty oriented groups in your area as part of a "speaker's exchange".
Try to keep the formal meeting to around 2 hours. We must always respect the member's time. If they want to stick around to chat after that (and many will) it should be at their discretion. My experience is that presidential politics should be one subject we avoid. We have all made up our minds, and the tone of debate quickly becomes very ugly.
Try to make sure that every member who is at the meeting gets to "own" some sort of activity. If there are many more people that tasks for large outreaches, do something like give the member ten index cards that have the Words "Looking for Liberty" across the top and our web site address across the bottom and have them placed on bulletin boards in supermarkets, laundries, etc.
Letting the members know about the meeting David Mincin
Ok you have the list of members that the Local Group Coordinator sent you. Send each member a personal email; don't just take the easy way and lump out one email to all! Don't forget our success rests in the individual effort of each of our members. Ask for a response to your email. A week later when you get few responses, pick up the phone. Call every member in your area. (Editor's Note: this may be impractical in some areas) You will mostly get machines. Leave a message tell them who you are, and would recommend you leave your email address, and phone number, ask them to drop you a note, or give you a call.
Don't become discouraged if your first effort doesn't bare as much fruit as you would like. Remember many of the folks on your list may have never been contacted by the FSP, so your call may be a bit of a shock to them, but mostly it will be welcome. If you do happen to run across someone who does not want to be contacted, respect their wishes, and remove them from the list
You will be able to weed out the bad addresses and phone numbers because of this initial contact. Let email@example.com know which information is bad. Now you have your core group of potential activists. I use the 3 times rule. If the folks don't respond to my email, I call them monthly at least 3 times. I keep everyone on my mailing list unless they tell me they do not want to be on it, so they get an announcement of our monthly meeting.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the results of my persistence. I receive calls or notes monthly from folks; mostly they apologize for not getting back to me. The results have been that since we began having meeting in March, we have had new folks at every meeting, including non-FSP members, interested in learning more about us. Ask the attendees to bring a spouse, family member, or friend! Hey why not?
Don't forget to send a short thank you note to all who have RSVPed, or confirmed attendance by phone. This serves as a reminder, but more important lets the folks know that your really appreciate their attendance.
Remember the folks have real lives too, and perhaps the FSP is not at the top of their list. Your persistence will help get the FSP onto their real life list. Don't get discouraged. Hey it is your job as a local leader to help the folks understand how important our mission is. So bottom line, much of it is about your attitude, and you willingness to get it done. Be honest, be up front, and let the folks know that we are it! You want freedom or just feel cool about chatting on the Internet? Of course go with your feelings on this, don't play Mr. I know it all. Fact is none of us know it all or have all the answers!