People Power: General Recruitment Tips and Tactics

Campus Reform Reporter
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An effective, ongoing recruitment operation is the cornerstone of all other activities a student group does. People and the time and talent they voluntarily give to your group are your most important resources, more important than money. You can't and won't want to do everything on your own. Plus you won't be able to effectively advance the mission of your group without a team.

Here are some other simple reasons why your group needs to constantly be recruiting:

  • Identify potential leaders
  • Instill dedication in members doing the recruiting
  • Have a constant, permanent, and public presence on campus
  • Power in numbers
  • Have to overcome turnover and attrition when members graduate or flake out on you

There are a variety of recruitment tactics, but here are a couple general strategic guidelines first:

  • Recruit as early as possible. The sooner you have a team the sooner you can mobilize it into action on behalf of your cause. Start in the summer online or even during the spring semester in preparation for the fall semester.
  • Recruit as many freshmen as possible. They have no commitments yet and thus have a lot of free time. Assuming you lead the organization well, these freshmen you recruit now could spend their entire college career dedicated to your student group, recruiting others to grow your iron cadre and general membership. Also, the younger your members are the more time you'll have to instill dedication in them and develop their leadership skills.
  • Don't get discouraged! Most people are going to be uninterested or try to ignore you. Rejection will happen often. Just keep engaging students! The only reason students should get by you without talking to you is because you are already talking with another student.

Here are some common, proven recruitment methods/tools:

  • Human Sandwichboard (my favorite technique and the most effective on-the-spot method)
  • Tabling (especially at student organization fairs, which can supply some of your best members)
  • Campus canvass (in-person or by emailing a survey to every student)
  • Petitioning
  • Clipboarding: just like Human Sandwichboad and Tabling except no table or sandwichboard
  • Stationary Sandwichboards
  • Chalking sidewalks, plazas, chalkboards, etc.
  • Facebook
  • Flier handouts (placing fliers in the hands of students as they walk by)
  • Posting posters or fliers (make sure it includes one big attractive visua and your group's contact info)

The methods of recruitment are virtually limitless. Every event or activism your group does is a recruitment opportunity; always have a sign up sheet handy. Almost every substantial interaction with another person is a potential recruitment opportunity; don't be afraid to probe a new friend's political views to see if they might make a good member.

Always be on the lookout for people who share your political views on various issues and try to empower them to be active and effective in your group or start their own group.

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